When Gala Spinaway won the Cherry Hill Mile 15 days ago the finish was so tight that the colt had to wait some 10 minutes before entering the winner's circle.
No such wait yesterday.
The colt made a mockery of the $75,000 Deputed Testamony Stakes at Pimlico Race Course yesterday, then walked straight into the winner's circle. He won by 13 lengths -- which was 13 lengths, less a fraction of an inch, greater than his margin in the Cherry Hill Mile.
"That seemed like forever," jockey Gregg McCarron said of the time it took the photo-finish camera to separate Gala Spinaway and Near the Limit in the Garden State Park race.
Contrary to his last victory, the 1 1/8 -mile Deputed Testamony was a lesson in simplicity for Gala Spinaway. The 3-5 favorite in a field of five Maryland-bred 3-year-olds, he broke smoothly, lurked briefly in last place, then zipped to the lead with six furlongs to run. He widened his lead at every call.
"At the quarter pole, I thought I might have had a little chance," said Tommy Turner, who rode runner-up September Star. "But then Gregg started yelling and whistling to his horse, and he drew off by five again."
Gala Spinaway is not a Triple Crown nominee because his trainer, Bernie Bond, believes "he's a useful horse, not a top horse. I could have run in the Garden State [Stakes], but this was a lot easier. I've made it a point to duck the good horses, and it's been working out."
Gala Spinaway has won five of 13 starts. The $45,000 winner's purse boosted his earnings to $196,325. He paid $3.20 after finishing in 1 minute, 50 seconds on a muddy track.
In contrast to the Deputed Testamony, today's $125,00 John B. Campbell Handicap promises more drama. Once one of the circuit's most important races for older horses, the Campbell has been relegated to lesser status in recent years. Nevertheless, a competitive field of nine will travel the 1 1/8 miles.
"I believe there are five or six horses that can win with a good trip," said trainer Mert Bailes, who entered J.R.'s Horizon. "My horse couldn't be coming to the race any better."
Reputed Testamony is the 118-pound top-weight and likely favorite.
NOTES: Festin, winner of the Oaklawn Handicap, is nominated to the May 11 Pimlico Special. . . . Valay Maid was upset at 1-2 odds in her seasonal bow yesterday. The 4-year-old filly, a Maryland-bred champion last year, finished second to Capp the Power in the eighth race. . . . The Elkhorn Stakes, featuring 1990 national turf king Itsallgreektome, will be simulcast to Pimlico and the Laurel inter-track outlet today. . . . One of Maryland racing's all-time favorites, Little Bold John, returns to action today following a layoff of more than a year. The 9-year-old gelding, a 25-time stakes winner, goes six furlongs in an $8,400 allowance race at Delaware Park. . . . Trainer Charlie Hadry has been granted a stay of a 15-day suspension after appealing to the Maryland Racing Commission.