It wasn't a case of outnumbering the competition. Trainers Mel Stute and Wayne Lukas each had a pair of horses entered in Sunday's $200,000-added Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.
It was simply a case of outrunning the competition--and almost running out of time.
Just inside the final sixteenth, Stute's Snow Chief came through the middle, passed a tiring Louisiana Slew, stablemate Darby Fair and long-shot leader Lord Allison, before charging ahead to win the 1 1/16-mile contest.
Jockey Alex Solis, who is quickly becoming one of the meet's most consistent riders, rode Snow Chief. With the victory, he has now won a stakes race in each of the two weeks since Oak Tree opened. He won the $110,000 Volante Handicap last Saturday with Justoneoftheboys.
In addition to the $167,340 winner's purse, Stute's win was made all the richer by his other entry, Darby Fair, who came in third, and son Gary Stute's fourth-place finish with Au Bon Marche.
A long shot called Lord Allison slipped into second, knocking the Stute clan one notch off a 1-2-3 finish.
The Lukas-trained favorite Louisiana Slew finished fifth. Lukas' other entry, Badger Land, was sixth.
"I knew we'd be chasing Louisiana Slew," Solis said. "But I was surprised the other horse (Lord Allison) was out there. I wasn't worried about it, though, because my horse was running pretty easy."
When the two last met in the seven-furlong Sunny Slope Stakes, Louisiana Slew defeated Snow Chief by a neck. Snow Chief paid $5.00, 3.40 and 2.80 to win. Lord Allison paid $20.20 and 7.60 to place, and Darby Fair paid $5.20 to show.
"Louisiana Slew got really rubber-legged and wobbly the last eighth of a mile," said jockey Pat Valenzuela. "He ran good the first part, but he got pretty tired. The mile might be his best distance."
Horse Racing Notes Laffit Pincay, Jack Kaenel and Darrel McHargue all returned to ride at Oak Tree Sunday after major stakes wins out of town Saturday. Pincay rode Dontstop Themusic to a 2 1/2-length victory in the $150,000-added Spinster Stakes at Keeneland. Kaenel rode Semillero to victory in the $200,000 Louisiana Downs Handicap. McHargue scored a big victory with Hegemony in the Mark's Place Handicap at Bay Meadows in a course-record time of 1:28 4/5 for the 7 1/2-furlong turf test. . . . Oak Tree's response to lottery-mania, the $1 Pick Nine wager, began this weekend. However, unlike the lottery, the Pick Nine may take some time to catch on. Only $135,285 was bet Saturday, but Oak Tree officials are optimistic.