LAUREL -- Country Day continued a resurgence to prominence with a come-from-behind score in the $23,000 feature at Laurel Race Course yesterday.
Country Day is the colt who ran against some of the nation's top 3-year-olds earlier this year, then made a victorious comeback Nov. 1 at Laurel after a long respite.
"He was closer than we thought he'd be today," winning rider Mike Luzzi said, "but that was because the pace was so slow. He's probably the best route horse I've ridden."
The colt paid $2.60 as prohibitive favorite over five rivals. He ran -- the 1 1/8 -mile distance in 1 minute, 51 seconds.
"We'll probably stay here for the Annapolis [Handicap, for 3-year-olds Nov. 25]," trainer Eddie Gaudet said.
Gaudet has an unusual arrangement with trainer John Parisella: He communicates with Parisella -- instead of owner James Scibelli -- regarding the horse's agenda, and he will soon turn the horse back to Parisella, who handles the "first string" in New York for Scibelli.
Luzzi overtook Edgar Prado in the riders' standings Sunday and leads, 44-42. Prado is recuperating in Florida after undergoing kidney surgery and will not be back for about 10 more days.
With Country Day at such short odds, horseplayers weren't seeking a big payday. Many had sought one earlier in the day, however, when the Double Triple offered its first six-figure carry-over pool since Oct. 8.
But bettors were foiled in the third race, first half of the gimmick. Three first-time starters -- She's Tuffy Nuff, Doneys Respect and Lyrical -- filled the winning slots, yielding just six live tickets. And when Captive Moment, a 23-1 shot, won the fifth race, the carry-over for tomorrow's card increased to $115,319.20.
NOTES: Trainer Bob Camac is due to arrive at Laurel with a stable of 20 horses today. Camac had previously shipped horses to run in Maryland from bases in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. . . . Another veteran Maryland rider, Clarence "Jo Jo" Ladner, has also been on the sidelines for several weeks. Ladner is in his native state of Louisiana after having a metal plate removed from his arm. He is not expected back until January. . . . Smelly is a likely starter in Saturday's Maryland City Handicap.