Zack Steer wins Copper Basin 300

Posted: Tuesday, January 14, 2003

GLENNALLEN (AP) -- Zack Steer of Palmer won the Copper Basin 300 Sled Dog Race Monday.

Steer and nine dogs crossed the finish line in Glennallen at 3:01 p.m., followed 11 minutes later by Lance Mackey of Kasilof and his nine dogs. William Kleedehn of Carcross, Yukon Territory, was third, coming in at 3:46 p.m. with 10 dogs.

Steer, who has been mushing for six years, left the Tolsona checkpoint one minute before noon Monday for the 23-mile homestretch. Mackey left Tolsona 16 minutes later.

Forty-four mushers started the race Saturday.

Six mushers -- including defending champion Hans Gatt of Atlin, British Columbia -- had scratched by Monday afternoon.

Gatt decided to pull out of the race sometime after he arrived at the Sourdough checkpoint Sunday night. Gatt won the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race last year and is signed up to run it again in February.

Race Marshal Al Marple said he had spoken to Gatt before he scratched in the Copper Basin 300 and the musher mentioned his dogs weren't running as well as he would have liked. He was in 28th place when he scratched.

Gatt was planning to drop one dog, which would have brought his team to eight dogs, Marple said.

''I think he was just trying to save his dogs for the Quest, when he realized he wasn't going to finish competitively,'' he said. ''It was nothing earth-shattering.''

The Copper Basin 300 is a qualifying race for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and is considered one of the state's premier mid-distance sled dog races.

Twenty-three of the mushers in this year's event are rookies.

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