04/24/2009 11:00PM

Compari leads all the way in Snow Chief


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The first eight races of Saturday's California Gold Rush program at Hollywood Park were just short of a disaster for jockey Garrett Gomez. He rode six of the races, and his best result was two fifth-place finishes.

"It was getting a little frustrating," he said.

Then, a 5-1 shot named Compari, saved Gomez's afternoon. Making his stakes debut, Compari led throughout the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes for 3-year-old statebreds.

Compari ($13.20) ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.63, winning by 1 3/4 lengths over 5-2 contender Triumphant Flight. J P Jammer finished third in the field 10. Feisty Suances, the morning-line favorite, was scratched because of the lingering effects of a sore foot. Unbridled Roman, the 5-2 favorite, was third on the final turn but faded through the stretch to finish eighth.

Compari was expected to take the lead, and Gomez had the gelding in front through early fractions of 22.98 and 46.59 seconds. While the pace was quicker than Gomez would have preferred, he said Compari was comfortable. "He felt well within himself," Gomez said.

Compari was closely tracked by Triumphant Flight on the backstretch. When the field reached the turn, J P Jammer was an additional threat, racing just behind Compari. In early stretch, Compari pulled away to lead by two lengths, and the margin basically stayed the same through the stretch. "I let him out a notch when they came to him," Gomez said.

Compari races for the partnership of breeders John Harris, John Nicoletti, and Don Valpredo and is trained by Marty Jones. By Redattore, Compari has won 2 of 3 starts and $183,000. He was third against maidens in his career debut in a six-furlong sprint at Santa Anita on Feb. 26, and returned to win a one-mile maiden race on turf there on March 29.

Gomez had one more mount after Compari's victory. He rode Grazen ($26.60) to a victory in the NTRA Stakes for maiden sprinters.

Liberian Freighter wins second straight stakes

The stalking style of Liberian Freighter is proving to be effective in statebred stakes this spring.

Liberian Freighter ($7.20) won his second consecutive stakes in the $150,000 Tiznow Stakes, giving jockey Rafael Bejarano his fourth major stakes win of the day.

Sent off favored, Liberian Freighter was within a half-length of pacesetter Big Bad Leroybrown for the first half-mile, took the lead in early stretch and pulled clear to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Star Nicholas, the winner of the On Trust Handicap here last fall.

Bestdressed, a 14-1 outsider, rallied from last in a field of nine to finish third. Liberian Freighter ran 7 1/2 furlongs in 1:27.74.

Liberian Freighter is owned by Shawn Dugan, Chuck Winner, and the estate of Edward Nahem and is trained by Neil Drysdale. A 4-year-old gelding, he has won 5 of 15 starts and $403,996. Liberian Freighter won his first stakes in the Sensational Star Handicap, a turf sprint for statebreds, at Santa Anita on March 29.

Unusual Smoke continues his ascent

Trainer A.C. Avila and Santa Ines Stable deserve a nomination for claim of the year in California with Unusual Smoke.

Taken for $12,500 at Santa Anita on Jan. 7, Unusual Smoke won his first stakes, and third race for his current connections, in the $150,000 Khaled Stakes on turf.

Unusual Smoke won a starter allowance and an allowance race for statebreds during February and March at Santa Anita. In the Khaled Stakes, Unusual Smoke ($14.40) had an ideal trip, stalking the pace before taking the lead in the final furlong.

Ridden by Martin Garcia, Unusual Smoke ran 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:47.28. Seminole Native, a 7-year-old gelding, finished second, a nose in front of Apoplectic in the field of nine. Medzendeekron, the 6-5 favorite, was never a factor and finished eighth under Gomez.

Unusual Smoke, 4, has won 4 of 12 starts and $183,660. He earned $90,000 for the win in the Khaled Stakes.