LAUREL -- A 1-5 favorite is fairly unusual in the day-to-day racing grind. Jockeys relish the opportunity to ride such a prospect, but they also cringe at the thought of losing and hearing abuse from angry fans.
The tote board showed 1-5 on White Bucks in yesterday's last race at Laurel Race Course, and when the horse stumbled badly at the break, jockey Edgar Prado began to worry.
"I thought, 'Now what am I going to do?' " said Prado, whose mount's odds were at 3-5 until Turning Blade ran off during the post parade and was scratched. "He stumbled, and his head came up and hit me right in the face. Broke my lip. So I decided just to wait, then make one run at the end."
White Bucks' recoil from the misstep stunned Prado enough that the 22-year-old rider lost his stirrups. "My left iron was over on the right side," he said. The bad start left White Bucks -- a heavy favorite because of his front-running ability -- 10 lengths behind.
White Bucks steadily made up ground, and Prado steered him outside for the stretch run. But at the eighth pole, he still had six lengths to make up.
He came flying and passed John Two Guns and Tie in the frantic final yards to win by nearly a length.
Prado returned to the winner's circle. Blood clogged the cracks of his teeth. He showed off the cut on his lip, knowing it was a small price to pay to get a 1-5 shot home on time.
"I'm sure glad he got up," he said. "Everybody would have been pretty mad if I hadn't won with this one."
* Speed on the rail dominated the 11-race program at Laurel yesterday. Five winners broke from the inside post, and seven were either first or second throughout.
Bold Jag's victory in the sixth race, was typical of the card. Wearing saddlecloth No. 1, he led at every call and won by five lengths.
A Call To Rise and I'm Wild, two front-running winners, accounted for the co-features. A Call To Rise was the first of two straight winners for trainer Luigi Gino and his son-in-law, jockey Alberto Delgado.
Mike Luzzi, the meet's leading rider, was aboard I'm Wild. Luzzi has 94 winners at the 81-day-old meet.
Mark Johnston and Prado also had riding doubles. Johnston's two winners came for leading trainer King Leatherbury, who has winners, 14 more than Howard Wolfendale.
With stakes events scheduled for just one Sunday program during January and February, allowance races have become the top events at Laurel on Sunday. Yesterday, eight of the 11 races were for 3-year-olds.