Sur La Tete Sets Course Mark in Meadow Brook

Sur La Tete, under a heady ride by Christopher Read, rolled to an open-lengths lead turning for home en route to winning the Meadow Brook Steeplechase (NSA-I) in course record time Thursday afternoon at Belmont Park.

The third leg of the steeplechase Triple Crown was contested over 2 ½ miles over Belmont's inner turf course. Sur La Tete, a 6-year-old gelding by Sky Classic--Rutledge Place,by Caro, covered the distance in 4:36.53, far faster than the course standard of 4:40 set by Eclipse Award-winning 'chaser Flatterer on Sept. 21 1984. Flatterer's impost that day was 167 pounds. Sur La Tete toted 154 in the Meadow Brook.

Sur La Tete, who was bred in Kentucky by Rutledge Farm, is owned by Zohar Ben-Dov's Kinross Farm. Considered a problem horse on the flat due to bad behavior, Ben-Dov took a chance on Sur La Tete turning things around as a jumper after seeing the horse in a field. Sur La Tete has excelled under trainer Neil Morris, winning two steeplechase races prior to the Meadow Brook, including a victory in the Georgia Cup (NSA-I), the opening leg of the Triple Crown.

Sur La Tete was the 3-1 second-choice in the eight-horse field and he won the race by 3 ½ lengths over 4-5 favorite Serazzo. Serazzo finished 17 ¾ lengths ahead of third-place finisher Jonstar. Sur La Tete returned $8.90, $3.30, and $2.40. Serazzo paid $2.60 and $2.20. Jonstar paid $2.90 to show. The 5-8 exacta paid $19.80.

Sur La Tete was next to last early in the $107,600 race, but advanced steadily under Read. Read pushed Sur La Tete to the lead as they neared the final turn of the four-turn race, opening up a sizable lead. Serazzo, who was forwardly placed throughout early, drifted back to fifth in the tightly-bunched field nearing the last turn, and rallied, but could not catch Sur La Tete, who won under a hand ride.