It was fitting that jockey Alex Solis won the richest event on the annual Gold Rush Day program at Hollywood Park.
Solis was the regular rider of Snow Chief, the champion 3-year-old of 1986 and a special guest in Inglewood on Sunday. Now 24, Snow Chief looked a picture of health as he joined the post parade in the $250,000 race named in his honor.
Although none of those in the 1 1/16 -mile contest reminded anybody of Snow Chief or any other top 3-year-old, Solis got the money with 7-1 shot Leesider, who edged out pacesetter and 18-1 shot C.T. Zee in a race that was hardly a work of art.
A son of Bertrando who had only a maiden victory in five starts before Sunday, Leesider prevailed by a nose in a pedestrian 1:52.31.
"It was awesome seeing Snow Chief out there today," said Solis, who also won the race in 2004 with Cheiron. "It's amazing to think about all the great things I did with him. He was the horse that practically started my career.
"It's even better now that I won the race named after him."
There was no repeat for Memorette in the $150,000 Fran's Valentine.
The defending champion had to settle for third in the turf race, which was won by favored Nashoba's Key, who remained unbeaten for owner-breeder Warren B. Williamson and Carla Gaines. The win was the third for the 4-year-old Silver Hawk filly, who was ridden by Garrett Gomez.
Nashoba's Key, who had begun her career with two victories on the grass at Santa Anita, was part of a chalky beginning to the Gold Rush card.
The first five races were won by favorites.
Besides Nashoba's Key, the other public choices to succeed were Rare Exchange in the $60,000 Magali Farms, Somethinaboutlaura in the $150,000 B. Thoughtful, Greg's Gold in the $150,000 Tiznow and Silver Z in the $70,000 Warren's Thoroughbreds.
Somethinaboutlaura needed help from the stewards to post the 12th victory of her lifetime.
She actually finished second but was moved up after original winner Getback Time was disqualified for interference in the stretch.
The surprises came later in the day. Social Climber is now two for two after his 9-1 upset in the $70,000 Barretts, Epic Power was a game winner at 7-1 in the $150,000 Khaled and 14-1 shot Scandalous took the finale, the $60,000 NTRA.
Social Climber and Scandalous are trained by Darrell Vienna, who wasn't the only trainer with two victories Sunday.
In addition to Nashoba's Key, Gaines also won the $200,000 Melair with 2-1 favorite Tiz Elemental.
Stormello and Tiago, who will leave together for Churchill Downs this morning for an engagement in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, had their final works for the race on Sunday at Hollywood Park.
Tiago, the half brother to 2005 Derby upsetter Giacomo who earned his trip to Kentucky with a shocker in the Santa Anita Derby on April 7, worked six furlongs in 1:11.40 under jockey Mike Smith.
"He went dynamite," said Smith, who also rode Giacomo to his biggest win for owners Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer John Shirreffs. "This colt has grown up a whole lot."
Trained by co-owner Bill Currin, Stormello, who won the Norfolk and Hollywood Futurity as a 2-year-old, worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 under rider Kent Desormeaux.
Stormello, who was fourth in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park in his most recent start on March 30, will try to become the first Hollywood Futurity winner to capture the Kentucky Derby since Real Quiet in 1998.