Updated on 09/17/2011 11:23AM

Chief Planner best in Snow Chief


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The 7-year-old gelding General Challenge finished last in his comeback on Sunday, but 3-year-old upstart Chief Planner picked up the torch for owner-breeder Golden Eagle Farm by running away with the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes on California Gold Rush Day at Hollywood Park.

The seven-length romp thrust Chief Planner ($5.60) into the national 3-year-old picture, and served a fitting reminder of the influence of Golden Eagle founder John Mabee who passed away last April 22. "John was such a big supporter of California-bred days, he really believed in the Cal-bred program," Mabee's widow Betty Mabee said afterward. "He piloted the ship as far as he could take it a?? but I wish he were here."

Chief Planner, who was making only his second start of the season and first around two turns, finished the mile and an eighth race in 1:49.12 and will be considered for the Preakness Stakes. Betty Mabee and assistant trainer Tim Yakteen said the decision on Chief Planner's spring campaign will be made by Baffert. "Now we have a fresh 3-year-old, and hopefully we'll have a prosperous year," Yakteen said.

Excessivepleasure, the 7-5 favorite, pressed the pace, was no match for Chief Planner, but finished two and a half lengths in front of third-place finisher Tiz A Coup. The Snow Chief was the richest of six stakes for California-breds on the $1.3 million Gold Rush program, and while Chief Planner's runaway win was the highlight, other incidents were less positive.

* General Challenge finished last in the $150,000 Tiznow, won by Joey Franco.

Beaten nearly 20 lengths, General Challenge cracked after just five furlongs in the seven and a half-furlong sprint, race 8 on the 10-race card. It was General Challenge's first start since Aug. 26, 2000, and suggested two possibilities. Either General Challenge does not want to be a racehorse, or trainer Bob Baffert has a lot more work to do.

The Tiznow winner, Joey Franco, was making his second start since being transferred from trainer David Hofmans to Darrell Vienna, who deferred credit for the 4-year-old's rapid improvement. "I was just lucky to get him in the right place in his form cycle, because there was nothing to fix," Vienna said. Joey Franco was bred and owned by Jerry Frankel. Kent Desormeaux rode Joey Franco ($7.20), who won the Tiznow by length over Bonus Pay Day.

Commander's Flag finished third. The time of the seven and a half-furlong race was 1:28.04.

* Two races earlier, jockey Mike Smith went down in a bizarre spill when his mount jumped the inner rail in the $150,000 Khaled Stakes. Smith and pacesetter Prized Friend appeared on their way to victory in the mile and a sixteenth turf race, when the horse explicably jumped over the rail.

Smith was thrown hard on his back, though preliminary reports from Centinela Hospital were that Smith was not seriously injured. Prized Friend fell into the infield and ran loose for five minutes before he was caught. He was not seriously hurt.

The Khaled was won by Sea To See ($9.20), who wore down Native Desert in the final strides to win by a neck. Lily's Lad finsihed third. Sea To Sea was ridden by Alex Solis, and trained by Doug O'Neill. The final time was 1:47.60.

* Jockey Gary Stevens suffered a minor foot injury in the starting gate for race 5 when his maiden filly Tucked Away smashed Stevens' foot against the gate. Stevens was limping after the race, which he won. He said later: "There's nothing I can do about it, and I'm not missing the (Kentucky) Derby."

* Cee's Elegance and Jetinto Houston dominated the $150,000 B. Thoughtful Stakes. Cee's Elegance beat Jetinto Houston by three-quarters of a length; it was seven and a half lengths back to third in the seven-furlong race, run in 1:21.70 over a track that played lightning-fast early in the card.

Cee's Elegance ($4.80) was winning for the fifth time in a 29-race career that is winding down. According to co-owner Michael Cooper, the 6-year-old Cee's Tizzy mare will campaign sparingly this year. She will aim for the California Cup Matron during the autumn Oak Tree meet Santa Anita, and is likely to be retired and bred in Kentucky next spring. Victor Espinoza rode the winner for trainer Doug O'Neill.

* In the $150,000 Fran's Valentine Stakes, race 3 for fillies and mares at a mile and a sixteenth on turf, Shalini upset 3-5 favorite Blind Ambition.

Corey Nakatani rode Shalini ($7.80), who won by a neck in 1:41.41. The winner is trained by Craig Dollase. Odds-on favorite Blind Ambition was three-wide throughout, made the lead passing the quarter pole, and got worn down.

She held second over Sunset Serenade.

* Bartok's Blithe took advantage of a fast pace in the in the $200,000 Melair Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, winning the mile and a sixteenth race by three-quarter of a length over pacesetter Princess V. The Melair was the first stakes win for trainer Jorge Guiterrez. Bartok's Blithe ($7.20) was ridden by Victor Espinoza. After runner-up Princess V., it was eight lengths back to Fatal Caper. The final time was 1:42.87.

* After earning one of the year's highest Beyer Speed Figures by a 3-year-old (108) in his previous start, Summer Service returned to Earth in race 2.

Hammered to 1-2 in the allowance sprint, Summer Service offered no resistance to El Nuki ($23.80), who won by four lengths, racing seven furlongs in a quick 1:21.19.

* The pick six on Sunday, which featured a guaranteed $1 million pool and was perceived to be difficult, turned out to be not so tough after all. The highest payoff in the series was $11.60, and there were 72 winning tickets that returned $10,560.

* The on-track attendance of 14,600 was the lowest in the four-year Gold Rush history, but total handle of $17,230,858 was a Gold Rush record.