01/27/2002 1:00AM

Snow Ridge best in Palos Verdes


ARCADIA, Calif. - Snow Ridge spoiled the comeback of Squirtle Squirt in Sunday's $150,000 Palos Verdes Handicap over a wet track at Santa Anita.

Squirtle Squirt, the 2001 Breeders' Cup Sprint winner, dueled with Snow Ridge for the first half-mile but was no threat through the stretch, losing by four lengths.

Steady rain after lunch left the track wet-fast. Snow Ridge finished six furlongs in 1:07.70, just missing Sunny Blossom's 1989 track and stakes record of 1:07.20 when races were timed in fifths.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Snow Ridge set fractions of 21.13 and 43.31 seconds.

The 4-year-old Snow Ridge led by a head on the backstretch and steadily pulled clear through the stretch.

"I think we saw what we can do when he puts it all together," said winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas. "The time might not be realistic seeing as how it was firm underneath, but they all had to run over the same track."

Owned by Overbrook Farms, Snow Ridge won the Grade 3 El Conejo Handicap here on Jan. 1. Overall, he has won 8 of 17 starts and $467,699. He was pre-entered for the 2001 Breeders' Cup Sprint, but was not selected to enter. Squirtle Squirt finished a half-length in front of Ceeband, who was followed by Men's Exclusive, Explicit, Beaumes de Venise and Silky Sweep.

Squirtle Squirt, trained by Bobby Frankel, was making his first start since the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Belmont Park on Oct. 27. The loss did not discourage jockey Jerry Bailey.

"It probably wasn't his favorite track," Bailey said. "He worked hard to get through it. He's probably not fully cranked."

Owner David Lanzman said Squirtle Squirt would be pointed for the $150,000 San Carlos Handicap on March 3 or the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai on March 23.