Trainer Ernest (Chico) Green set his sights short in preparing Rollodka for yesterday's $50,000 Challedon Handicap at Laurel. But there was nothing shortsighted about his methods.

Capitalizing on a speed duel between Gala Gold Dust and favored Endless Surprise, Rollodka rallied under jockey Ron Franklin for his third straight victory. The 8-year-old gelding defeated Gala Gold Dust by two lengths; Endless Surprise was another 2 1/2 lengths back.

Although Rollodka was coming off victories at a mile and 1 1/16 miles, Green wasn't sure the horse was sharp enough to win at yesterday's seven-furlong distance. So he gave Rollodka rigorous half-mile workouts to hone his speed.

"When we first got this horse {last April}, he used to get all worked up and was very ratty in the paddock," Green said. "We haven't really done anything special with him, but he's settled down so much. He'll go any distance you want him to."

Since late October, Rollodka has won at four distances, from 6 1/2 to 8 1/2 furlongs. And he's done it much the way he did yesterday.

Franklin had Rollodka (9 to 5) about six lengths back as Gala Gold Dust and Endless Surprise (3 to 2) strained for the lead in 22 1/5 seconds. Endless Surprise, long one of Maryland's fastest horses, had shown a different style when he came off the pace to win the Chesapeake Handicap in his previous start. "He just flat got outrun in the first part of that race," said Kent Desormeaux, who begins a one-week suspension today after riding four winners yesterday. "He runs one way only -- on the lead."

That precipitated his demise in the Challedon. Endless Surprise shadowed Gala Gold Dust for five-eighths of a mile, but dropped back around the turn. Entering the stretch, Rollodka swept past Endless Surprise and overtook Gala Gold Dust at the furlong pole. On a dry but slow track, Rollodka completed seven furlongs in 1:26 2/5.

Claimed by Green and owner Lindy Redding for $25,000 last spring, Rollodka since has won nearly $150,000. He has finished third or better in 81 percent of his 58 starts.

"It takes a very good horse to keep winning at shorter and shorter distances," Franklin said. "And it takes a great trainer to get him ready for it. I've never seen any trainer who's better than Chico."