11/26/2001 1:00AM

Fair Grounds: Old Hickory upset

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NEW ORLEANS - Lead by Example, an improbable winner based on his form, rallied to win the Old Hickory Stakes by a neck on a rainy Saturday at Fair Grounds.

Winless in five starts since taking a $50,000 maiden claimer more than five months ago at Churchill Downs, Lead by Example refused to let the Louisiana-bred Walk in the Snow pass.

Lead by Example, a 2-year-old Birdonthewire colt owned by Bill Schettine and trained by Josie Carroll, paid $31.20 to win. He ran the 5 1/2 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:05.

Under jockey Kirk LeBlanc, Lead by Example began rallying on the far turn and split horses after turning for home. Walk in the Snow went outside the tiring speed and the two hooked up to the wire. Far Away Bell finished third.