NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Demonstrative took the lead going to the last of 18 hurdles and won the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois Steeplechase Stakes by a head on Saturday.
The 6-year-old gelding, who finished second in last year's balloting for steeplechaser of the year, defeated Divine Fortune in the feature race at Percy Warner Park.
Robbie Walsh was aboard the winner for owner Jacqueline Ohrstrom of The Plains, Va. and trainer Richard Valentine. Demonstrative covered the three miles over a soft turf course in 5:42.4.
A field of seven went to the post with each horse carrying 158 pounds. Lake Placid and jockey James Slater tried to steal the race by going to the front at the drop of the starter's flag and staying there for over 2 miles and 15 hurdles.
Going down the back stretch the final time, Lake Placid was challenged by Demonstrative, Divine Fortune, the French-bred Molotof and Slip Away, the 2010 steeplechaser of the year who is still racing at the highest level at age 10.
Molotof and Slip Away dropped back around the far turn and finished third and fourth respectively. Divine Fortune, ridden by Darren Nagle, jumped the last hurdle with a slight edge over Demonstrative. With both riders asking their horses for more, Demonstrative matched strides with his rival and poked his head in front in the shadow of the wire to earn his eighth win in 18 career steeplechase races.
The $90,000 winner's check raised Demonstrative's steeplechasing earnings to $419,300.
After the trophy presentation, Walsh said he changed his strategy early on because of the distance.
"He's been winning at shorter distances. This was his first race at 3 miles. I just wanted him switched off early so we could make a run for home," he said.
Valentine said he would give Demonstrative some time off and then point him for the A.P. Smithwick Stakes in July and the New York Turf Writers Handicap at Saratoga in August.
Racing after seven years of retirement, Gary Stevens rode Oxbow to a win in the Preakness, justifying his return