Updated on 09/16/2011 7:36AM

Snow Ridge takes El Conejo


ARCADIA, Calif. - Snow Ridge leaped out of the gate on top, outdueled the fleet Freespool through torrid fractions, then pulled clear for an 18-1 upset victory in Tuesday's Grade 3, $109,500 El Conejo Handicap* (click here for chart) at Santa Anita.

Snow Ridge finished 3 1/2 lengths in front of Explicit, then had to survive a foul claim lodged by Explicit's jockey, Kent Desormeaux. He alleged interference shortly after the start, but the stewards quickly dismissed the claim and made the race official.

Rio Oro was third, a nose behind Explicit. Freespool, the 4-5 favorite, faded to seventh in the field of eight. Ceeband and Stormy Jack were scratched earlier in the day.

The El Conejo, at 5 1/2 furlongs, is the shortest stakes race of the meet at Santa Anita. Freespool was the race's defending champion, but he tired after setting fractions of 21.20 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and :43.99 for a half-mile. Snow Ridge moved powerfully past Freespool on the turn, then drew clear, winning in 1:03.05 on the fast main track. He paid $39.20.

Mike Smith, who rode Snow Ridge, said his colt accelerated after being bumped by Freespool heading into the far turn. "It made him mad," Smith said. "He jumped right back into the bridle. He's a big, long horse, but he's extremely fast."

Snow Ridge, a 4-year-old colt by Tabasco Cat, is owned by William T. Young's Overbrook Farm and is trained by D. Wayne Lukas. The El Conejo was his seventh victory in 16 lifetime starts. He previously had been based on the East Coast and in Kentucky. Last year, Snow Ridge won the Grade 2 Kentucky Cup Sprint at Turfway Park.

For Lukas, it was his 100th stakes victory at Santa Anita, second to the late Charlie Whittingham's 204.

Isaias Enriquez, who rode Freespool, said his horse stopped after getting passed. "When another horse gets in front of him, he gets a little discouraged," Enriquez said.

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