09/27/2003 11:00PM

Bowman Mill holds on in Sky Classic Handicap


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Bowman Mill ($15.80) barely held off 24-1 shot Lenny the Lender to capture Sunday's $271,750 at Woodbine, in which 1-2 favorite Strut the Stage finished a flat fourth over the soft going.

Bowman Mill had a perfect stalking trip under jockey Brice Blanc in the Grade 2, mile and three-eighth event. Mobil and Destiny Red dueled through honest fractions, with the former gaining command on the far turn.

Bowman Mill drew evenly with Mobil at the head of the stretch, as Strut the Stage loomed into contention. Bowman Mill assumed control in mid-stretch, and held off a late charge from Lenny the Lender to win by a nose. Mobil edged Strut the Stage for third in the six-horse field, while finishing four lengths behind the winner. The final time was 2:23.14.

There was a stewards' inquiry regarding an incident in the stretch. Bowman Mill came over and bumped Lenny the Lender, who had closed along the rail, but the stewards ruled that the infraction occurred just past the wire.

"My horse was getting a little tired," said Blanc, "and he did drop in a little bit, but we were about two or three jumps past the wire when it happened."

Bowman Mill, based in Maryland with trainer Michael Dickinson, earned $163,050 in his first stakes victory for owner-breeder Dr. John Chandler.

There were some large show payoffs, because Strut the Stage finished out of the money. Bowman Mill returned $14, Lenny the Lender paid $21.50, and Mobil returned $10.60.