01/22/2006 12:00AM

Middleweight rallies to win Maxxam

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Coady Photography/Jenifer Juelsgaard
Middleweight rallies to win the $100,000 Maxxam at Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday.

Middleweight made a splash on the move back to dirt on Saturday night, when he rallied for a length and a quarter win over Matched in the $100,000 , the richest dirt race of the meet for older horses at Sam Houston Race Park in Houston.

Seainsky finished third in the mile and an eighth race. Dixie Meister, the highweight and favorite off his runner-up finish in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap, was scratched from the Maxxam because the horse has been sold, according to officials with Sam Houston.

Middleweight ($5.60) sat about a length off of Pass Rush, the favorite who led the field through fractions of 24.44 seconds for the opening quarter, 49.22 for the half-mile and 1:13.02 for six furlongs. Middleweight took over in the stretch, and went on to cover the distance over a fast track in 1:52.02 under jockey Gerard Melancon.

"We weren't worried about going from turf to dirt," said Al Stall, Jr., who trains Middleweight. "He runs well on the main track and loves the distance of a mile and an eighth."

Stall said Middleweight would be pointed for the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Breeders' Cup, a mile and an eighth turf race, at Sam Houston on April 8.

Middleweight earned $60,000 for the win in the Maxxam, which was his second career stakes wins. Overall, he has won seven of 26 starts for earnings of $290,130. Middleweight races for Peter Gaffney and Stewart M. Madison.

* On the undercard, Culinary ($5.40) rallied for a half-length win over Lucky Sabre in the $40,000 Sam Houston Distaff. It was another three lengths back in third to Ballroom Deputy.

Culinary raced several lengths off of pacesetter Capotiada, who put up fractions of 24.03 seconds for the opening quarter, 48.49 for the half-mile and 1:14.01 for six furlongs. Culinary advanced on the turn, overtook Lady Sabre in the late stages, and went on to cover the mile and a sixteenth in 1:46.35.

Carlos Marquez Jr. rode the winner for trainer Michael Stidham. Culinary has now won 5 of 12 starts and $243,430. She races for Jack H. Smith, III, Thoroughbreds.

* Leading rider Larry Taylor won the 1,000th Thoroughbred race of his career in the second, when he guided Rare and Sixy ($4.20) to victory.

* Handle on the 10-race card Saturday night was $2,406,031. Attendance was 6,163.