The Pimlico Oaks offered a $200,000 purse yesterday, but it apparently wasn't enough to entice an invader of quality to take on the Maryland queen, Wide Country.
So the filly did what she has been doing for several months: She won as she pleased, then returned to the winner's circle looking for tougher company.
Trainer Bob Camac said the filly would not go to Churchill Downs for the May 3 Kentucky Oaks -- "It's too far from home," he said -- and will run next against Maryland-breds in the $75,000 Caesar's Wish Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on April 28.
Then, it's the $250,000 Black Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico on May 17. That could finally provide the opposition that owner Tommy Tanner has been seeking. "I want to run against good ones," Tanner said earlier this month, "because I think she's real good."
In the meantime, Tanner should be pleased to continue banking the big checks that Wide Country is earning. Yesterday's $120,000 payday was her biggest, and it boosted her career total to $397,035.
Wide Country led all the way to win by 8 1/2 lengths over Silver Tango, who edged Ritchie Trail by a half-length for second money. It was the sixth straight stakes victory for the daughter of Magesterial and her eighth in 11 career starts.
Wide Country ran the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1 minute, 43 2/5 seconds over a track upgraded to fast earlier in the program. The odds-on favorite for the fifth straight time, she paid $3.80 to win and topped a $14.60 Exacta.
For horseplayers, the Double Triple was much tougher than the Oaks. The Double Triple pool still has not been emptied in the first 13 days of the meeting; it rose to $218,493 when none of 17 live tickets from the third race were exchanged for the correct 8-2-3 fifth-race combination.
The Oaks was touched by tragedy earlier in the day when Orme Wilson Jr., owner of Ritchie Trail, died of a heart attack at his Virginia home. Wilson, 70, was a longtime owner and breeder and former president of the Virginia Thoroughbred Association. Wilson was also a former director at Laurel Race Course.
Title Hunter, a first-time starter, won the seventh race for Wilson's daughter, Elsie Thompson.
NOTES: Tong Po, Maryland's top Triple Crown hope, will be ridden by Angel Cordero Jr. in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in his next start, trainer Leon Blusiewicz said yesterday. Cordero replaces Wayne Barnett. . . . Creative Act, the subject horse in a controversial case resolved by the Maryland Racing Commission last week, won in his first start for trainer Luigi Gino yesterday. Gino won a reversal after the colt's prior connections had successfully protested his claim. . . . Bet the Pot, making his first start since being spilled in the General George Stakes at Laurel, set a six-furlong track record at Turfway Park before Hansel's record run in the Jim Beam. The 6-year-old gelding won a $25,000 allowance race in 1:08 3/5 under Pat Day. . . . A problem before the Cherry Hill Mile simulcast at Pimlico and the Laurel inter-track shut out "quite a bit" of wagering dollars, said the tracks' president, Joe De Francis. While the Pimlico/Laurel tote boards showed two minutes to post, the horses left the gate.