LAUREL -- It's a little track with few pretensions, but at least one race has drawn the big horses.
Today's $40,000 Marlboro Cup, richest event at Marlboro Race Track, has attracted an unusually strong field. Five stakes winners, including Timely Warning and Baldski's Choice, are in a field of older runners as the Upper Marlboro track plays host to the second of two autumn programs.
"We'll definitely run," said Curtis Burns, assistant to Virgil "Buddy" Raines, who trains Timely Warning. "The surface is supposed to be good, with little danger of him getting hurt. It's a nice little purse, and it's about time for him to go home, anyway. He might run once more in New Jersey, depending on how he comes out of the race, before we turn him out for the winter."
Timely Warning won the $200,000 Maryland Classic on Maryland Million Day before turning in a lackluster effort at Laurel Race Course 10 days ago.
"I wasn't too surprised he ran bad in that race," Burns said. "He'd had some odds and ends go wrong before that, and he's been running real hard all year. I suspect he'll run good at Marlboro."
Baldski's Choice, a winner of more than $500,000, won the one-mile Marlboro Cup last year as a heavy favorite. But this year the competition is much more severe. Timely Warning, Dixie Dancer, Bolting Holme and Finder's Choice have all won stakes events.
Marlboro offers triple wagering on all 10 races today. First post is noon.
* Trainer Rodger Gill said yesterday that Chas' Whim, winner of the Cliffhanger Handicap at the Meadowlands Friday night, will make his next start in the $100,000 Laurel Turf Cup Nov. 11. "He ran an awful big race," Gill said of the 3-year-old colt, who was ridden by Allen Stacy.
Another recent Maryland-based runner to win an out-of-town stakes was the 2-year-old filly Devilish Touch. She won the Astarita Stakes at Belmont Park Monday, her third victory in four career starts for trainer Carlos Garcia.
* Be Exclusive darted through an opening along the rail before going on to win the $23,000 allowance feature at Laurel yesterday.
The winner, ridden by apprentice Kenra Taylor, paid $6 as second choice in a field of six filly-mare turf runners.
Sith Najibe, the odds-on favorite, had no apparent excuse and finished third.