Updated on 09/17/2011 10:14AM

Classic Endeavor wins wire to wire


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Classic Endeavor bounced back from a heart-breaking nose loss in last month's Stymie Handicap to post a front-running, half-length victory in Saturday's Grade 3 at Aqueduct.

Balto Star finished second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Tempest Fugit. It was another half-length back to Snake Mountain, the even-money favorite coming off four consecutive stakes victories.

It was the first stakes win for Classic Endeavor, a 5-year-old son of Silver Buck owned by Herbert and Carol Schwartz and trained by their son, Scott Schwartz. Classic Endeavor ran for a $20,000 claiming tag as recently as last November.

Since he is not nominated to the Breeders' Cup, Classic Endeavor ran for only $150,000 of the listed $200,000 Excelsior purse.

Though apprentice Luis Chavez had ridden Classic Endeavor superbly in his last five starts, trainer Scott Schwartz made a switch to journeyman Chuck Lopez for the Excelsior. Part of the reason was Lopez's reputation as a fantastic front-end rider. With his horse breaking from the rail under 113 pounds, Schwartz wanted Lopez to put Classic Endeavor on the lead.

Lopez slapped Classic Endeavor on the shoulder leaving the gate and he outsprinted Balto Star and Saint Verre to a 2 1/2-length lead in fractions of 23.11 seconds and 46.41. Though Saint Verre and Balto Star made a run at Classic Endeavor around the turn, he opened up again and held Balto Star at bay through the stretch.

Classic Endeavor ran the nine furlongs in 1:48.10 and paid $8.90 to win.

"He did just what I thought he would do - make them chase him, and they let him get away with a two-length lead pretty much on his own," Scott Schwartz said.

Said Lopez: "All I had to do was nudge him a little bit and he was quickly clear. From there, once he got to where he'd prefer to be, I think he just settled down. I took a long hold and went along for the ride."

Snake Mountain, who had run down Classic Endeavor to win the Stymie by a nose, raced last to the stretch and was never a threat, finishing fourth. It broke a five-race winning streak.

"He usually puts himself into a good position down the backside. He wasn't tugging at me; I was having to peck at him," jockey Mike Luzzi said. "He didn't give his best effort today.