03/27/2004 12:00AM

Snorter wins Berkeley Handicap

Vassar Photography
Snorter and Russell Baze edge clear late to take the Grade 3, $100,000 Berkeley Breeders' Cup Handicap by a length over Yougottawanna (#3) at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday.

ALBANY, Calif. - Snorter ($6) got through a small opening along the rail and won his stakes debut, capturing the $100,000 Grade 3 on Saturday in the fastest mile run at the current Golden Gate Fields meeting.

He defeated pacesetting Yougottawanna by one length in 1:33.92.

The 4-year-old colt, trained by Bobby Frankel, has now won three straight races.

Snorter sat behind the honest 22.88, 46.14 fractions set by Yougottawanna, who held on gamely in the stretch to finish second a neck in front of Taste of Paradise, who broke out and was wide early.

"It wasn't looking good at the quarter pole," winning jockey Russell Baze said. "I didn't have a chance to move out after the first turn."

Turning into the lane, Yougottawanna was challenged by Taste of Paradise. He drifted out just enough for Baze to squeeze through along the rail.

"That little horse is kinda brave," Baze said. "It wasn't a big hole to run through. I had a lot of horse under me. It was a question if it would open soon enough. Fortunately, it opened when I had momentum going."

Dennis Carr rode Yougottawanna, who was claimed for $50,000 in his last start while running the fastest 1 1/16 miles of the year at Golden Gate Fields.

"He relaxed as nice as can be," Carr said. "He set real good fractions but did not seem to put much effort into doing it. I'm just sorry that hole opened. It was the only chance the winner had. This was an awesome claim. He won't be beat on the fairs this summer."

Snorter earned $55,000 for his first stakes victory, increasing his career earnings to $171,430 with four wins in 10 starts.