NEW YORK -- In Excess, an Irish-bred 4-year-old from California, overcame a rocky start and, with Pat Valenzuela in the saddle, posted a 2 1/4 -length victory yesterday in the $500,000 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park.
Rubiano, ridden by Jerry Bailey, closed well to finish second in the 14-horse field, 1 3/4 lengths ahead of another fast closer, Gervazy.
Housebuster, the favorite in the field of horses ages 3 and up, led into the stretch while setting rapid fractions but tired badly and finished eighth. He carried 124 pounds, seven more than the winner.
In Excess, a son of Siberian Express, won for the second time in four starts this year. His other victory was in Santa Anita's San Fernando Stakes on Jan. 19. In his most recent effort, In Excess was fourth, nine lengths behind Farma Way in the Santa Anita Handicap.
In Excess, trained by Bruce Jackson, covered a mile on a fast track in 1 minute, 35 2/5 seconds to earn $300,000. He returned $10.40, $6.40 and $8.60, Rubiano paid $14.40 and $10.80, and Gervazy paid $11.20.
Valenzuela called his mount "a super horse. I worked him once for Bruce at Santa Anita, and I got on my knees and begged him to let me ride him. I think he'll go further, no doubt in my mind."
Owner Jack Munari, who is involved in golf-course planning and development, owns about 50 thoroughbreds and races them chiefly in Louisiana and California.
Housebuster's trainer, Warren Croll, was uncertain of his horse's future. "He ran a fast half. I want to talk to my jockey first."
Rider Craig Perret offered no excuses other than to say that Housebuster "carried all the weight. He's the type who'll pay because he makes all the pace. He came back OK, and he'll be back another day."