Bob and Beverly Lewis' With Distinction prevailed in a driving three-horse finish and survived a jockey's claim of foul to emerge victorious in Monday's grade III, $112,100 El Conejo Handicap at Santa Anita. With substitute jockey Javier Santiago aboard for trainer D. Wayne Lukas, With Distinction edged Jungle Prince by a head in the 5 1/2 furlong dash, shortest of 60 stakes during the Santa Anita meet. The winning time over a "sloppy" track was 1:02.44. With a head and a nose separating the first three finishers, Kent Desormeaux, aboard third-place finisher Jet West, claimed foul against the winner. Desormeaux's contention of interference in the stretch was disallowed. Fourth choice in the wagering, With Distinction paid $11, $6.60 and $3.60. Jungle Prince, ridden by Garrett Gomez, returned $5 and $2.80. Jet West, whose three-race win streak expired, paid $3.20 to show. Santiago gained the winning mount after scheduled rider Victor Espinoza was excused for illness. Espinoza lost three winning mounts on the rainy day program that generated a Pick Six carryover of $137,596 into Thursday's racing card. With Distinction, whose seven previous races had been in Kentucky, earned $67,260 for the victory, boosting the 5-year-old's career bankroll to $320,807 from a record of 6-6-2 in 21 races. The son of Storm Cat was bred in Kentucky by William S. Farish Jr."This horse has been kind of a blue collar worker," said Lukas, who had won the El Conejo in 2002 with Snow Ridge. "He's been consistent. He's maturing mentally, but he's still got some attitude issues. He's getting better, however." Objective, whose only previous victory had been achieved on grass, captured the earlier Hill Rise Stakes after the one-mile event for 3-year-olds was switched from turf to the main track due to the day's rainy conditions.
With Gomez in the saddle, the son of El Corredor pulled away from Class of Fifty in the stretch to take the $79,700 stakes race by 4 1/4 lengths while traversing the sloppy main course in 1:35.10. Rock Lobster finished third in the field reduced from nine to five by the surface switch. Objective paid $9.80 for the victory, earned $47,820 while increasing his earnings to $82,820 for owner-breeder James McIngvale, and boosted his record to 2-0-3 in six races for trainer Tom Roberts. (Chart, Equibase)