After Snow Chief won the Preakness nine days ago, his owners opted for the Jersey Derby instead of the June 7 Belmont Stakes. Now, after Snow Chief won today's $1 million Jersey Derby, his owners say he also may go to the Belmont.
Snow Chief, continuing to approach racing's all-time earnings record, pulled away from upset-minded Mogambo in the stretch today to win the Jersey Derby at Garden State Park by two lengths.
Tasso, the 1985 2-year-old champion who beat Snow Chief in last year's Del Mar Futurity, came from eighth in the field of 10 to finish third in the 1 1/4-mile race, 1 1/2 lengths behind Mogambo and 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Fobby Forbes.
Moments after the race, trainer Mel Stute said he would prefer to give Snow Chief a rest after his third race in 24 days. However, owners Carl Grinstead and Ben Rochelle had other thoughts, saying they will consider running in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes, the last leg of the thoroughbred Triple Crown.
"Going the extra quarter gives you that much more prestige," Grinstead said. "It puts your horse in a better class. I think it might also make us feel better about not winning the Kentucky Derby."
"I think that if [Snow Chief] had the slow pace like he did today, he could go a mile and a half," jockey Alex Solis said. "Mel told me the rail was dead and to stay off it, so I did. He made my job easy for me today."
Snow Chief, who followed his shocking 11th-place Kentucky Derby finish to win the May 17 Preakness Stakes, covered the Garden State Park course under Solis in 2:03 -- two-fifths of a second off the record set by Spend a Buck last May.
Snow Chief, the 3-to-5 favorite, collected $600,000 with the victory, pushing his career earnings to $2.73 million. The triumph -- his seventh in eight starts and the 11th of his 16-race career -- also made Snow Chief eligible for a $1 million bonus. To collect, he also must win the Haskell Invitational Handicap at Monmouth Park July 26 and the Pegasus at the Meadowlands Sept. 12.
John Henry, who just came out of retirement at the age of 11, holds the all-time earnings record with $6.5 million. Now-retired Spend a Buck, second with $4.11 million, earned $2.6 million of that amount with his bonus-padded victory in the 1985 Jersey Derby.
Mogambo, the 5-to-1 third choice of the Garden State crowd of 31,547, broke on the rail and led until Snow Chief nosed ahead just before they finished their first quarter-mile.
Snow Chief tucked in on the rail, a half length ahead of 80-1 Hadden Hour, on the first turn and pulled into a 3 1/2-length lead on the backstretch.
But Mogambo, ridden by Jose Santos, refused to give up, coming outside to pull within a head of Snow Chief. Solis, hand-riding Snow Chief until then, went to the whip at the head of the stretch, and Snow Chief pulled away.
Snow Chief returned $3.20, $2.80 and $2.40. Mogambo, who won $200,000, paid $3.80 and $3, and Tasso ($110,000) returned $2.80.
The remaining order of finish from fourth: Fobby Forbes, Bordeaux Bob, Ensign Rhythm, Miracle Wood, Dese Days, A Blend Of Six and Hadden Hour.