'The Snake' Chases Fifth Straight in Stymie

(from track report)
Everyone entered in Saturday's 1 1/8-mile $75,000-added Stymie Handicap at Aqueduct have to fight off a snake that has not let go of his prey since August. Snake Mountain, owned by Berkshire Stud, will go for his fifth consecutive victory and his fourth straight stakes score.

Snake Mountain, the Stymie high weight at 123 pounds, has been unbeatable since early fall, winning the Stuyvesant, Queens County and Aqueduct Handicaps.

"He's had a lot of dream trips," said trainer Jimmy Jerkens. "But he makes his own dream trip. He drags the rider up to the front and then the rider has to decide whether to wait a while or go."

Snake Mountain's most recent score, a 7 ½-length romp in the Aqueduct Handicap on Jan. 18, was typical. The 5-year-old horse rolled up inside and easily drew away under a hand ride.

The extreme winter has not bothered the son of A.P. Indy. He seems to run better in cooler temperatures. Snake Mountain is 6-for-6 over both Aqueduct dirt tracks.

Jerkens has also entered Iron Chancellor in the Stymie, a 5 ¼-length allowance winner Feb. 12.

"I probably won't run both," the trainer said. "If there's a small field, then there's a better chance I would run them both."

Returning from nearly an eight-month layoff Jan. 4, Iron Chancellor ran a strong second behind sharp Stymie rival Classic Endeavor.

Because Jerkens owns a piece of Snake Mountain, his trainees will be coupled.

Classic Endeavor, owned by Herbert and Carol Schwartz and trained by Scott Schwartz, is one of the hottest horses on NYRA grounds. The 5-year-old has won five of his last six starts with each race against stronger competition. On Feb. 2, he comfortably beat Tempest Fugit and Ground Storm. Tempest Fugit returned to win the John Campbell, a hundred grander at Laurel.

Sanford Goldfarb's My Request enters the Stymie off one of his best efforts. The 6-year-old gelding blew past Resolve and My Man Ryan to win a Jan. 19 allowance.

"He ran a big race last time," said trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. "I don't know how it's going to work out against Snake Mountain, but we'll give it a shot."

The Pat Reynolds barn will saddle the entry of Tom's Thunder and My Man Ryan.

$75,000-added Stymie Handicap, 3 & up, 1 1/8 mile
1. My Request, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 113
2. Country Only, Abdiel Toribio, 111
3a. Tom's Thunder, C.C. Lopez, 111
4b. Snake Mountain, Mike Luzzi, 123
5a. My Man Ryan, Ariel Smith, 113
6. Classic Endeavor, Luis Chavez, 114
7b. Iron Chancellor, Richard Migliore, 113