LAUREL -- Starfield won the $100,000 Chrysanthemum Handicap on a sloppy main track at Laurel Race Course yesterday, after a couple of decisions by trainer Richard Small and jockey Andrea Seefeldt worked out right.
The first decision was made Friday before the rain started. Seefeldt, told by the stewards that she would receive a seven-day suspension because of a ride Thursday, chose to ride yesterday and start her week off today. She was to catch a flight to Bermuda early this morning.
Her ride on Starfield was her richest victory. "I've had a couple of $75,000 races," she said.
When rain soaked the turf course overnight, Small had some thinking to do. The 1 1/16-mile race was switched to the main track at 1 1/8 miles, and seven horses were scratched, leaving only six starters.
"She [Starfield] has run two bad races on the turf," Small said after the victory. "Both times, it was on yielding turf. So, if they had left the race on it, I was going to take her out. Additionally, if they had left it on the turf, all those horses wouldn't have come out and I probably wouldn't have wanted to run against all that competition."
Starfield had run only twice on a main track, but the trainer remembered that her sire, Spectacular Bid, was good in the slop. "I think he won the Santa Anita Handicap in the slop," he said.
Starfield went on the track as fourth choice, and led virtually all the way. The 3-year-old filly won by four lengths over Hear The Bells. Third was Highland Penny, trailed by Lip Service, Lanzada and Oh My Pride.
The winner paid $16.20.
Seefeldt, whose silks and riding pants did not have the mud and slop that the other jockeys had on theirs, said: "She just galloped easy on the front end, relaxed. When I picked her up, she went."
There was talk that some of the older mares were making their last start, headed for the breeding shed after the Grade III Chrysanthemum.
"Not this one," Small said. "She's only 3 and just getting good. I hope she keeps on racing and wins a lot of races.
"I was going to winter her [give her a rest during the cold months], but now that she likes mud, we might race her in the winter."
Starfield cost owner Bob Meyerhoff $40,000 at the Keeneland fall sales. She earned $60,000 yesterday and pushed her bankroll to $141,235.
The turf course was so saturated by midafternoon that track management said the $100,000 Laurel Turf Cup today also would be run on the main track. Instead of 1 1/2 miles, the race will be 1 1/4 miles.
Mike Luzzi booted in three winners and moved within one of the lead in the Laurel jockey standings.