LAUREL -- Jeweler's Choice solidified his status as the top Maryland-bred sprinter with a victory in the $60,000 Challedon Handicap at Laurel Race Course yesterday.
The 5-year-old gelding rallied through an opening between Land Lord and Jet Stream in early stretch, finally taking a three-quarter-length decision over Jet Stream, who was making his first start in five months. Silano was third, another length behind.
Jeweler's Choice had captured the $100,000 Maryland Sprint on Maryland Million day at Pimlico Race Course with a similar surge. He was favored in both races and paid $4.80 to win yesterday.
"I thought he won pretty easy," winning jockey Joe Rocco said. "He was pricking his ears at the end [usually a sign of disinterest], and I didn't know if he was fooling around or just couldn't see because of the sunlight. I know I couldn't, so maybe he couldn't."
Land Lord led early, then was overtaken at the quarter-pole by Jet Stream. Soon thereafter, Jeweler's Choice rallied between them, never coming far off the rail.
The winner ran the seven-furlong distance in 1 minute, 23 2/5 seconds over a fast track.
For Jet Stream, one of the top handicap runners in Maryland the last year or so, the runner-up finish was encouraging.
"He got a little tired at the end," rider Mario Pino said. "But, yes, he ran a real big race."
* Trainer Jimmy Woods has been suspended 180 days by the Delaware Park stewards for a bizarre incident in which he refused to allow one of his horses to start for fear of the horse's being claimed.
Woods entered Splendid Catch in a $5,000 race at Delaware Park on Oct. 22. When he learned another trainer had entered a claim for the horse, he initiated a series of events that eventually led to the horse's being scratched. His actions, the stewards ruled after a hearing yesterday, earned Woods the six-month penalty.
"He prevented his horse from starting and ultimately from being claimed," steward Jim Beem said yesterday. "It was a simple but serious violation."
The suspension begins Thursday. Beem said Woods had told the stewards he did not plan to appeal, although Woods does have 48 hours after the suspension is filed in which to do so.
Woods, 36, trains a six-horse stable at the Bowie training center. Through September, he had won with 25 of 67 starters (37 percent).
* Jockey Paul Nicol was transported to Greater Laurel-Beltsville Hospital last night after Blair Hall broke down, spilling him, in the final race at Laurel.
A track spokesperson said Nicol was complaining of lower-back pain but was taken to the hospital mostly as a precautionary measure.
Blair Hall, a 5-year-old mare, was destroyed humanely.
* Jason Kotik won the $10,000 first prize in the Breeders' Cup handicapping tournament at Delaware Park yesterday. Kotik, 21, a native of Pikesville and a senior at the University of Delaware. Kotik beat out 450 contestants in the two-day event, as he turned a mythical $1,000 into $34,000.