04/23/2011 9:11PM

Hollywood Park: Espinoza holds Nahem together in Snow Chief

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Nahem gave jockey Victor Espinoza fits through the stretch of Saturday’s $150,000 Snow Chief Stakes, but the fuss was worth it.

Making his stakes debut, Nahem ($26) prevailed by a head over 15-1 Woodman’s Luck to win the race over 1 1/8 miles for statebred 3-year-olds. Thirtyfirststreet finished third, a half-length in front of 5-2 favorite Chiloquin in the field of seven. Nahem was timed in 1:52.20.

Nahem was fifth until the eighth pole and took the lead under a strong ride from Espinoza, who feared the gelding’s inexperience would cost him a win in deep stretch, especially when Woodman’s Luck reached contention late.

“I thought I could get there but I didn’t expect that horse on the outside,” Espinoza said. In the last 10 yards, he switched to the wrong lead and I thought could cost him the race but we got there just in time. He’s not the easiest horse to ride. He’s still a little immature.”

Owned by John Harris and Mike and Cory Wellman, Nahem is trained by Paddy Gallagher. A Bertrando gelding, Nahem beat maidens in his third start and was second in an optional claimer at Santa Anita on March 13, his most recent start prior to the Snow Chief Stakes. Nahem has won 2 of 5 starts and $134,400.

Woodman’s Luck ran the best race of his career to be second, and the longer distance of the Snow Chief enabled that performance, trainer Mike Puype said.

“When he got inside the sixteenth pole, I thought he’d get there and then Nahem dug in,” Puype said. “He’s an even-paced horse and the distance helped him.”

Melair: Mile Rules just lasts

Miles Rules won the $125,000 Melair Stakes for 3-year-old fillies over 1 1/16 miles and was fortunate the race was not one or two more yards longer.

Miles Rules led by two lengths at the eighth pole but grew weary in the final furlong as Screaming Regal rallied from last in a field of 10 to miss by a nose. Miles Rules was timed in 1:46.03.

After a troubled start, Miles Ruled led by 2 1/2 lengths on the backstretch, setting early fractions of 23.05 and 46.52 seconds.

The win gave jockey Joel Rosario his third stakes victory of the day, and he admitted the margin at the finish was closer than he preferred. Screaming Regal “was coming but I held on,” Rosario said. “I tried to open up a little bit to give my filly the opportunity to hold on.”

Screaming Regal finished 3 1/4 lengths clear of Warren’s Flyer in the field of 10 statebreds.

Miles Rules ($6.80) was favored. She races for breeder Ted Aroney and is trained by Clifford Sise. By Tribal Rule, Miles Rules has won 3 of 4 starts, but the Melair was her first stakes win. Her only loss was a third in the Generous Portion Stakes for statebred 2-year-old fillies at Del Mar last summer.