LAUREL -- Considering the Hutcheson Stakes too good to pass up, Laurel Race Course officials have scheduled the first simulcast of the year for tomorrow.
The $75,000 Hutcheson, headed by Fly So Free, will be simulcast to Laurel and the Pimlico inter-track outlet from Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla.
Maryland's extensive 1991 out-of-town simulcast schedule was not supposed to begin until Feb. 9, with the Donn Handicap from Gulfstream.
"But the race came up a good one," said Laurel/Pimlico vice president Jim Mango, and the decision was made early yesterday to card the Hutcheson as the final event on a 12-race program.
Fly So Free, likely to be named 1990's champion 2-year-old at the Eclipse Awards presentations Feb. 9, faces a strong challenge as the favorite in the seven-furlong race. To Freedom, unbeaten in five lifetime starts, is the likely second choice. Richman, who won five straight Midwest stakes to close out 1990, also is in the field of 10.
Jose Santos will fly from California to ride Fly So Free, who drew the No. 8 post. Richman (Pat Day) starts from No. 5, and To Freedom (Chris Antley) from No. 6.
Fly So Free has not run since Oct. 27, when he won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, but the colt has been training well. He posted a half-mile workout in 47 seconds Monday, earning a "bullet" (fastest workout that day at that distance).
The Hutcheson essentially signals the start of the Triple Crown trail. In last year's race, Housebuster defeated Summer Squall by a length, and both went on to have terrific campaigns.
Meanwhile, officials at Triple Crown Productions in Louisville, Ky., said the list of 1991 Triple Crown nominations will be released tomorrow.