Lit De Justice Is the Class of El Conejo Field


When Lit De Justice performs at his best, there is no better sprinter in the nation.

The 6-year-old gray, who has become notorious for his antics before a race, was clearly in top form Sunday.

Taking on five others in the $104,250 El Conejo Handicap, the Santa Anita meeting’s shortest stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs, Lit De Justice didn’t need that much yardage to earn his seventh career victory.

When the field reached the quarter-pole, there was little doubt who would win: the horse that was last for about three-eighths of a mile.


At the finish, the 2-1 third choice had 5 1/2 lengths on 35-1 shot A.J. Jett and he also had a new track record for the distance. He won in 1:01 4/5, breaking the mark of 1:02 set by Gray Slewpy in the 1992 El Conejo and equaled by Gundaghia two years later.

Something of a handful in the paddock Sunday and a bit hesitant about going into the gate, Lit De Justice has nonetheless improved his manners in recent months.

Trainer Jenine Sahadi credits a blindfold provided by New York-based starter Robert Duncan, who fitted Lit De Justice with the equipment while the horse was there for the Vosburgh and Breeders’ Cup Sprint last fall. He wears it going into the gate, then it’s quickly removed.

“[The blindfold] was really a great thing for this horse,” Sahadi said. “He doesn’t like to get his ears messed with. This blindfold goes over the blinkers with Velcro under the chin and you can put it on and off easy.

“I think [his manners] are getting better. As he’s been here longer, he’s more used to what goes on here. We need to work hard to accommodate the horse more than anything--that’s the name of the game in my mind.”

Jockey Corey Nakatani said the El Conejo was the first time he’d ever let Lit De Justice run the entire race. “Normally, I’ll ease up on him and let him coast to the wire,” he said. “But I wanted to make sure he would extend himself past the wire because he’s been pulling up before the wire. So I rode him out today and he set the track record.”


A.J. Jett, the second-longest shot in the field, finished four lengths clear of Fu Man Slew. Lucky Forever, the 2-1 second choice, finished fourth originally, but was disqualified for interfering with 3-2 favorite Lakota Brave at the eighth pole and was placed behind that one in fifth.


Gary Stevens, who won three races on his second day back after arthroscopic knee surgery, said the procedure has made a big difference in the way he feels.

“I’m pain free now and it feels good,” he said. “I feel like I did 10 years ago. I had a serious injury [in 1985] and I’ve never quite felt the same on a horse, as far as being pain-free with my legs. It’s nice to come out and ride the first race and not break out in a cold sweat.”


Santa Anita and Bay Meadows have moved up their post times on Jan. 28, the day of Super Bowl XXX.

First post for the races at Santa Anita will be 11 a.m, 90 minutes earlier than usual, and Bay Meadows will begin at 10:45 a.m.

The final race at Santa Anita is scheduled for 3 p.m. and kickoff for the Super Bowl is scheduled for 3:20.



Serena’s Song, who hasn’t run since finishing far back of Inside Information in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Oct. 28, might make her first start of 1996 in the seven-furlong Santa Monica on Jan. 27.

That Grade I sprint is also expected to attract Exotic Wood, who is perfect in her first five races.

Santa Anita Notes

Lit De Justice paid $6.80 to win and earned $64,250 for his owners Carol and C.N. Ray’s Evergreen Farm. . . . Alex Solis, Corey Nakatani, Martin Pedroza and Kent Desormeaux all won twice Sunday. . . . Laffit Pincay, who broke three ribs in a Dec. 17 spill, will be back Wednesday. He is named on three horses: Sir Harry Bright in the second, Guided Dancer in the third and River Scout in the fourth. . . . Jockey Rickey Frazier is on his way to Arkansas and will ride at the upcoming Oaklawn Park meeting.