After being graded stakes placed four times in her career, Barbara Hunter’s homebred mare Snow Top Mountain finally notched her first graded stakes Feb. 11 on the turf at Gulfstream Park. The 5-year-old mare surged past Hit It Rich in the late stages to take the $150,000 Suwannee River Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) by a half-length under Jose Lezcano.
Near the back of the eight-horse field early on, Snow Top Mountain passed rivals on the outside during a furious stretch run and was up in the final strides to score at odds of 9-2. The Tom Proctor trainee ran 1 1/8 miles on a good turf in 1:52.86 to win for the sixth time in 20 lifetime starts.
Among her graded stakes-placed finishes was the 2010 Garden City Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont Park. The gray/roan daughter of Najran was making her second start of the season. She missed by neck when second in an allowance race Jan. 8 at Tampa Bay Downs.
Snow Top Mountain had only favored Denomination beat after the opening half-mile that was run in :50.04. Speak Easy Gal was the pacesetter, with Persuading running just in back of her, and Thundering Emilia and Hit It Rich racing in the next group. They completed six furlongs in 1:14.93.
Speak Easy Gal and Elvis Trujillo still held a narrow advantage when they came off the turn, but a wall of horses was bearing down on her, including Strike It Rich who grabbed the lead past mid-stretch. On the outside, it was Snow Top Mountain and Gold d'Oro gaining the most ground, and Snow Top Mountain had enough kick to get to the wire first.
Hit It Rich and Javier Castellano finished second, three parts of a length in front of Gold d’Oro. Speak Easy Gal settled for fourth, just better than Denomination, the 2-1 choice. Thundering Emilia, Persuading, and Heavenly Landing followed.
Snow Top Mountain was bred in Kentucky and is out of the Storm Cat mare Motokiks. She won three times in 2011 including Kentucky Cup Ladies Turf at Kentucky Downs.
"We’ve kind of considered her a little sister (to Hunter’s multiple stakes-winner Keertana), but after this race we might have to reconsider," Proctor said. "That was a solid field with five or six in there that look like they are solid grade III horses.
"She’s versatile, so there are plenty of options out there for her and Keertana, and we have Marketing Mix for the same kind of races as well. It’s a good problem to have. I’m not one to make a lot of plans ahead for the horses. We’ll just see what comes along.”
The mare has now earned $427,393 in her career with the winning purse of $90,000.
Snow Top Mountain paid $11, $4.60, and $3. The exacta (8-6) returned $54 and the trifecta (8-6-5) was worth $387.20.