08/02/2002 11:00PM

Santa Rosa: Federal Highway by nose

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SANTA ROSA, Calif. - Federal Highway, making his first start around two turns, overcame a troubled trip and re-rallied after falling behind late to defeat Blue Slew's Shoes by a nose and win the $53,540 James F. Lyttle Memorial Handicap on Friday at the Sonoma County Fair.

Favored Federal Highway ($4.40) bumped with Rio's Chase after the break and raced four wide around both turns in the 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds. Federal Highway made a strong move on the second turn and was leading by two lengths in the stretch when Blue Slew's Shoes made a strong run, passing him in the final 50 yards.

"We got a good head bob," said winning trainer Brent Sumja, who had previously won the Lyttle with Bai Brun and Mountain Skier. "When that horse came alongside, he dug in. That's what you're looking for."

Federal Highway, who has three wins and two seconds in five starts, earned $23,410 to increase his lifetime earnings to $64,180. The winning time was 1:42.95.