SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- November Snow raced into the lead of the 3-year-old filly division yesterday when she outran six of the fanciest fillies in the land and won the 112th Alabama Stakes by a nose.
It was the second major victory in two weeks for November Snow, who won the Test Stakes here on the first weekend of Saratoga's rousing season. And she achieved it with a drive along the rail in the deep homestretch that nipped Saratoga Dew by the length of her nose, with the favored Pacific Squall nearly two lengths farther back and the popular Easy Now finishing seventh and last.
November Snow, owned by Earle Mack and trained by Allen Jerkens, ran the mile and a quarter under Chris Antley in 2:02 3/5, paid $6.40 for $2 to win and went home with $120,000. She also went home with the lead in the year-long marathon for honors as the best filly in the business.
The Alabama, the filly equivalent of next Saturday's $1 million Travers Stakes, was run on a muddy track and with one notable absentee -- Turnback the Alarm, who was ranked as the season's No. 1 filly before suffering a serious injury during a workout at Saratoga last Sunday.
Turnback the Alarm rose to the head of the class by scoring major victories in the final two races in the Triple Tiara series at Belmont Park this summer. But, on Sunday, she underwent surgery for a fractured cannon bone in her right hind leg and may not race again.
Still, it wasn't the absentees who furrowed any brows yesterday; it was the fillies on the track with their shining credentials. They were led by Pacific Squall, the winner of four victories in five starts on the West Coast, and by Easy Now, the half-sister to the champion Easy Goer and the filly star of the Ogden Phipps stable.
And, for added intrigue: November Snow, the bay daughter of Storm Cat and granddaughter of the renowned Alydar.
But it was Saratoga Dew who snatched the lead at the start and kept it. At least, she kept it until November Snow came rocketing past in the deep stretch. Jerry Bailey, who finished fourth on Vivano, complained that the winner had interfered with his filly. But the stewards disagreed.
"She's never run a bad race," Jerkens said. "Mr. Mack hates to run horses in the slop. There's more danger to a horse. But I knew she could handle it."
"At the finish," Antley said, "I had just enough horse."