LAUREL -- While trainer Dale Capuano took it easy yesterday with a day of fishing, one of his stable stars was hard at work.
In The Curl dominated the $54,350 Stefanita Handicap at Laurel Race Course by leading every step of the way. Capuano wasn't there to saddle her or savor the victory, however, because he is serving a 30-day suspension for medication violations.
His father, Phil, is listed on the Laurel program as trainer of the 40-plus Capuano runners. Phil accepted congratulations while taking no credit after In The Curl defeated Hushi by a length.
"What can I tell you?" he asked. "It's easy when all you have to do is put the girth on them and hope it doesn't fall off."
In The Curl survived a foul claim by Rick Wilson, who rode Hushi. Wilson alleged that Donnie Miller, riding In The Curl, tried to intimidate his mount by cutting off an inside path, but the stewards quickly disagreed.
"[Wilson] hollered at me when we turned for home," Miller said. "But there was plenty of room for him."
Dale Capuano claimed In The Curl, now 6, for $75,000 in early 1989 for owner Nick Rinaldi of Silver Spring. She has done more than repay that sum, which is believed to equal the highest amount ever paid for a claim in Maryland. After winning $32,610 yesterday, her career bankroll is $541,479.
Miller rode her to stakes victories for her previous owner and has since become her regular rider with Capuano as trainer.
"She's a neat old mare," Miller said. "She broke so quick today that she almost left me. I waited for the others to come to me, then I just let her go."
In The Curl paid $5.80 after running the six-furlong distance in 1 minute, 10 4/5 seconds. She ended a late Pick Three worth $113.80.
A victory by Hushi would have capped an exceptional day for trainer Charlie Hadry. With runners in three previous races, Hadry sent out all winners -- Blandy in the fifth, Dancinwiththedevil in the sixth and Pretty Amusing in the eighth.
* Shameful Pride, based at Laurel with trainer David Sipe, won the $35,000 Hydrangea Stakes at the Meadowlands on Saturday night. The filly was ridden by Mark Johnston.