LAUREL -- The $75,000 All Brandy Handicap at Laurel Race Course yesterday was supposed to be a farewell party for one of the top Maryland-bred mares of recent years.
Right story line. Wrong horse.
Double Bunctious led wire-to-wire, pushing her career earnings to $502,243. She defeated Mymet by six lengths, as favored Thirty Eight Go Go was left 15 lengths behind in fifth.
Thirty Eight Go Go was sold nearly two weeks ago for $250,000 as a broodmare prospect. But it appears that Double Bunctious is the one who will retire after a smashing end to her career.
"We're working on deals with several people with stallions," said owner Dan Westland of Tracy's Landing. "This was probably her last race."
Trainer King Leatherbury said earlier yesterday that owner David Hutson had decided to race Thirty Eight Go Go another year. "We're going on with it," Leatherbury said. "One more year."
However, after the All Brandy, the 5-year-old mare "pulled up kind of funny," said rider Mark Johnston, and she did not return with the other horses. "I don't know exactly what it was," he said. "She was laboring through the race, and I didn't want to bring her all the way back." Johnston dismounted at the end of the stretch in the unsaddling area normally used for non-stakes events.
An hour after the race, Leatherbury was asked whether the incident might prompt Hutson to retire Thirty Eight Go Go. "We'll have to wait," he said. "It's a very peculiar situation. She did this the last time she ran, then came out of everything all right. In fact, Mr. Hutson had his vet check her out three days after that race, and he liked her well enough for the sale to go through. As I speak, she's over at the barn cooling out just fine."
For Double Bunctious, a 6-year-old, the victory capped a career in which she won four stakes. "This was a great way for her to go out," said Nancy Kerr, Westland's close friend. "She's over the half-million mark now, so she's earned her retirement. Dale [trainer Dale Capuano] has done a great job with her."
Winning rider Mario Pino said: "The mud carried her. When I asked her for everything, she gave it to me." The victory was Pino's third of four on the 11-race program.
Double Bunctious ran 1 1/8 miles in 1 minute, 52 4/5 seconds. She paid $19.40 to win as fourth choice in a field of eight Maryland-breds.
After today's program, Laurel is dark for two days. The track then will conduct seven straight programs, with Jan. 2 the next dark day.