Lightly regarded Pine Belt staged a powerful stretch run Saturday to win the $67,700 Will Rogers Handicap for 3-year-olds at Hollywood Park.
In scoring his first stakes victory, Pine Belt went off at odds of more than 24-1 to pay $51.20, $13.40 and $7.80. Rich Earth returned $4 and $3.60 for second. Academy Road paid $5 to show. Pine Belt, making his first career start on grass, raced the 1 1/16th miles in 1:41.
Jockey Rafael Meza, who started the day's program in a 1-for-29 slump, allowed Pine Belt to lag in eighth position until the turn for home, where he brought the son of Lucy's Axe to the outside and quickly pulled away to finish 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Rich Earth, ridden by Sandy Hawley.
The victory was worth $40,700 to the Loblolly Stable of John Edward Anthony of Pine Bluff, Ark. Pine Belt, in his previous six starts, had earned $29,400 in scoring two wins. His only previous effort in stakes company was a seventh place in last month's Santa Anita Derby.