ARCADIA, CA – Dr. William and Mrs. Jill Gray homebred Indian Peak made an early push for the lead midway down the backstretch, a move that likely made the difference in him defeating fellow California-breds in Saturday’s $150,000 Snow Chief Stakes at Santa Anita Park.

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Sent from post 7 under Mike Smith as the 5/2 second choice, Indian Peak tracked from fifth as the field headed into the clubhouse turn. Up front, Margot’s Boy led inside of Bam Bam Again through pressured splits of :23.41 and :47.61, but suddenly Indian Peak made a three-wide bid and applied further pressure to the even-money favorite Margot’s Boy.

Bam Bam Again dropped out as soon as Indian Peak appeared, but Indian Peak continued running strongly along the outside of Margot’s Boy through the far turn. Taking the lead at the top of the stretch, Indian Peak continued running strongly under mostly a hand ride until crossing victorious.

The Quinn Howey trainee completed the 1 1/8-mile firm turf route in a final time of 1:48.11.

Credit: Benoit Photo

“He was being a bit strong (in the paddock before the race), but if you looked at his face, he wasn’t in distress or unruly,” Smith said. “He was happy, he wanted to get out there. He just wanted to give it to ‘em, which is a good thing, and which I let him do the first 1/4 of the race, then backed it up the second 1/4. He just has such a big, beautiful stride. I talked to the girl who rides him in the mornings and she said to just stay out of his way, so I listened to her.”

The field’s lone filly California Kook made a strong late stretch bid that came up just short by a 1/2-length. She did, however, nose out Margot’s Boy for second. DescartesSacred RiderCanyon Crest, and Bam Bam Again completed the strung-out order of finish.

Indian Peak’s win was his first at the stakes level and improved his overall record to 10-4-2-1 with $204,100 earned. The 3-year-old Comic Strip colt gave a first Santa Anita stakes victory to Howey, who has plied his trade in northern California and Oregon.

“I didn’t have the opportunity to talk to Mike before the race because of the way everything is set up now,” Howey said. “When Mike let him run early there, I was excited because I’ve been wanting to tell riders to go ahead and let him run, that’s what he likes. It worked out great, and to come to Santa Anita and win a stake like this… I feel really lucky to have the horse, first of all. Just to have a horse like this is incredible. When you’ve been claiming horses for $2,500 to run at Stockton for $4,000, this is really special.”

Indian Peak returned $7 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.60 to show. California Kook brought back $5 to place and $2.60 to show, while Margot’s Boy paid $2.20 to show.