BALTIMORE, JULY 19 -- Castelets, the highweight and favorite for today's $57,225 Crusader Handicap at Pimlico, benefited from a well-judged ride by jockey Allen Stacy to prevail by a half-length over fast-closing Brilliant Stepper.

Stacy never allowed Cherry Hill and Dark Flood to open a long lead in the 1 1/2-mile turf event. And with less than a half-mile to go, he asked the gray son of King's Bishop for steam and Castelets responded.

With Brilliant Stepper making a strong rally under apprentice Kent Desormeaux, Stacy struck Castelets from the right side several times and got him home in 2:28 4/5.

Trainer Ron Cartwright said, "De'ja` vu. He won this race last year {at 1 1/16 miles} . . . We'll continue to pick our spots from here."

Castelets earned $37,196, bringing his total earnings beyond $430,000. He paid $5 and led a 9-6 exacta worth $27.

Trotting:

Mack Lobell, the early Hambletonian choice, equaled the Vernon (N.Y.) Downs track record, 1:56, for his seventh straight victory in a heat of the $160,000 Founders Gold Cup, then was scratched from the final. Buckfinder won the final in 1:58.

After Mack Lobell scored by six lengths, owner Lou Guida said, "I don't wish multiple heats so close to the Hambletonian {Aug. 8 at the Meadowlands}."