01/28/2007 1:00AM

Student Council best in Maxxam Gold Cup

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Favored Student Council rallied for 3 1/4-length win over highweighted Mr. Pursuit in the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup Handicap at Sam Houston on Saturday night.

The 1 1/8-mile race is the meet's premier dirt stakes for older horses, and was one of two stakes on the program. Christmas Lily ($10.40) captured the $50,000 Sam Houston Distaff.

In the Maxxam, Student Council ($5.80) stalked the pace set by Charming Socialite, who led the field through an opening quarter in 23.12 seconds, a half-mile in 47.63, and six furlongs in 1:12.53. Student Council advanced on the final turn, took the lead in the stretch, and drew clear to cover the distance over a track rated good in 1:51.89.

"His running style was great for this race," said Robby Albarado, who rode the winner for trainer Neil Howard. "He was forwardly placed on the backside and everything fell into place and it was a perfect opportunity for him to win a stakes."

The win was Student Council's first in a stakes. Overall, he has won 5 of 16 starts and $196,176. Student Council races for his breeder, Will Farish.

The Maxxam win was the second for Farish, Howard, and Albarado, who teamed to win the race in 2005 with Alumni Hall. Farish raced Alumni Hall in partnership with Temple Webber and James Elkins.

Mr. Pursuit, the second choice at 5-2, finished a length in front of third-place finisher Goosey Moose. Mr. Pursuit carried 121 pounds, five more than the winner.

Christmas Lily by a neck

In the Distaff, Christmas Lily was a neck winner over favorite Plaid, who finished nine lengths clear of third-place finisher I.B.’s Halo. Christmas Lily ($10.40) raced with pacesetter Sweet Idea through an opening half-mile in 49.05 seconds, took the lead through six furlongs in 1:14.24, and came back when headed in the stretch by Plaid.

Jesse Campbell rode Christmas Lily for trainer Al Stall Jr. The filly earned $30,000 for her first stakes win. Overall, she has won 4 of 9 starts and $112,648. Christmas Lily races for B. Wayne Hughes.

* Attendance was 6,388. Handle on the 10-race program from all sources was $2,356,678.