LAUREL -- Wide Country romped to a second consecutive easy stakes victory at Laurel Race Course yesterday and probably wrapped up a championship among 2-year-old Maryland-bred fillies.
She won the $60,000 Heavenly Cause Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths as 1-2 favorite with Santos Chavez aboard and paid $3 to win.
By finishing ahead of Dress Optional, part of a Dick Small-trained entry that went off as second choice, Wide Country triggered an exacta payoff of only $3.80. Track records indicate that it is the second-smallest exacta at Laurel. The lowest was $3.20, when Secretariat beat Stop the Music in the 1972 Laurel Futurity.
Wide Country had beaten the best young state-bred females here Nov. 24 in the $150,000 Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship. She won that time by 4 1/2 lengths.
That triumph appeared to have clinched the 1990 title as the best of her age and gender in Maryland. She had beaten most of the good ones in the 1 1/16-mile Championship race and did it again yesterday in the 6 1/2 -furlong Heavenly Cause.
Wide Country is the classic example of a successful venture called "pinhooking," in which a speculator buys a horse at one sale in hopes of getting more in a later auction.
"A guy named Red Curtin down in Florida paid $8,500 for her as a weanling, and by the time we bought her in a 2-year-old in-training sale, we paid $50,000 for her," trainer Bobby Camac said yesterday.
Camac said he believes everyone involved with the filly has profited from the ventures.
"Red made money, and it will be good for the lady [Diane Carlson] who bred the filly," he said. "This is the first foal of a mare, and she's still got the mare. This filly winning these races is good advertising for her."
Camac said that in training the filly to run a shorter distance, he had done nothing more than "train her a little lighter. She'll run after the first of the year with Maryland-breds as much as we can, but she can beat others."
She earned $36,000 yesterday and expanded her bankroll to $173,340. The daughter of Magesterial has won four of six races.
Owner Tommy Tanner of Wilmington, Del., who has been in the racing business as an owner for five years, recalled the sale. "I just told him to pick me out a horse to win, and this is what he got me.
"I've never experienced anything like this, and I think we're going to be in the winner's circle a few more times with her."
Between the winner and the last-place finisher, there was a distance of 41 lengths yesterday. Dress Optional, 5 1/2 lengths behind the winner, was 4 1/4 lengths ahead of Traveling Treat, the third-place finisher. Fourth, 5 1/4 lengths farther back, was Hot Music. She finished three lengths ahead of Gladiatorianne, who was 23 lengths ahead of Lady Ardis.
Wide Country was timed in 1 minute, 18 2/5 seconds, three seconds off Ebonizer's track record for 6 1/2 furlongs.
* Ronnie Franklin, who rode Spectacular Bid to victory in the 1979 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, has retired as a jockey. He will work as a jockeys' agent. Franklin, 30, will book riding engagements for apprentice Clinton Potts. Franklin rode his last race Saturday.