LAUREL -- Shawn Payton, the only apprentice rider in the top 10 at Laurel Race Course, is leaving for Remington Park in Oklahoma City.
Payton, 18, said yesterday that he was disappointed because he had not fared better on the Maryland circuit, which has a reputation as a bugboy haven. His last day to ride at Laurel will be Friday.
"I'm going back to settle in there," he said. Payton came to Maryland last summer after riding at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., his hometown.
"I want to get where I'm riding a lot every day," he said. "I thought the bug would be more live here."
After racing at Laurel yesterday, Payton was 10th at the 91-day-old meeting with 31 winners. Mike Luzzi leads the standings with 105.
"There's a lot of shipping back and forth [between Remington and Oaklawn], so I might be riding back home some," he said. Remington begins a meeting Feb. 1, and Oaklawn starts Friday.
* Amerrico's Bullet was being led out of the winner's circle after winning the sixth race. Owner-trainer Jesse Bailey looked around, located the horse's blanket about 20 feet away, ran to get it, then put it over the horse's back.
Later, Bailey said: "He sure has covered me."
Since Bailey claimed the 5-year-old for $25,000 last January, Amerrico's Bullet has won seven races in 28 starts; yesterday's victory lifted him over $150,000 in earnings since the claim.
In the meantime, Bailey has made other, less successful claims. So he shakes his head when he talks about the salvation of his small stable.
"He's so sore, it's a wonder I can get him to the races at all," Bailey said. "I spend four and five hours a day working on him. He's so tough."
"He's a machine," said Mario Pino, who has ridden him in his last two starts, both victories.
* Luzzi, who continues to enjoy breathing room atop the standings, rode two winners. Edgar Prado (three) and Mario Pino (two) also had multi-victory days.
Prado is second behind Luzzi with 87 winners. Rick Wilson and Joe Rocco (79) are tied for third.
Rocco won the ninth race aboard Eagle Mill, giving him 1,999 career victories. He had been winless with his 23 most recent mounts.
* Milky Way Gal rallied from fifth and overtook Double Artemis in mid-stretch to win the $25,000 feature for fillies and mares.
Santos Chavez rode the winner, who is trained by Bob Camac. Double Artemis held on for second, 4 1/4 lengths back.
Saratoga Spark, the even-money favorite, finished a well-beaten fourth in the 6 1/2 -furlong race.