A good rule of thumb for the Roman Handicap: When in the Roman, do what My Frenchman does.
But no other horse has been able to keep up with My Frenchman in the Pimlico Race Course event for three years running. Even My Frenchman did himself one better when winning the $43,850 Roman yesterday.
Ridden by Edgar Prado, the 6-year-old gelding set a record for five furlongs on the turf, winning by nearly two lengths over Big Rose. He completed the distance in 56 2/5 seconds, shaving one-fifth off the standard set last September by Klassy Briefcase.
My Frenchman was prominent throughout from his rail slot before surging to an open lead in mid-stretch.
"When he runs fresh, that's the way he runs," said his trainer, Jim Murphy. "You've got no choice when you have the one-hole but to go."
My Frenchman, the 1-2 favorite, was making his second start after a winter/spring freshening. It is a pattern Murphy used successfully when the gelding won the Roman in 1989 and 1990.
Big Rose, the only mare in the field of six older runners, rallied mildly to be second, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Pulverizing.
My Frenchman was the seventh winning favorite on a 12-race program that included a simulcast of the Acorn Handicap from Belmont Park. He paid $3 to win and completed a late Daily Double worth a mere $6.20.
NOTES: One bettor at the Laurel Race Course intertrack outle emptied the Double Triple pool yesterday. Bobby Vaughn, a former jockey's agent, swept the entire $84,616 pool after investing $414 in the 2-race gimmick. Vaughn, 45, had 2 live tickets going into the fifth race and used combinations of 6-1-3 and 6-1-7. After This Ones Easy (No. 6) won over Rabbit (1) and Transferencia (7), Vaughn collected a post-tax sum of $67,693 in cash and 2 checks. . . . In the race before the Roman, Blue By Who notched his seventh victory from his last 8 starts with his usual off-the-pace rally. Mike Luzzi rode. . . . After 53 programs, Luzzi clings to a two-victory lead (58-56) over Prado atop the riders' standings. . . . Today's simulcast of the Peter Pan Stakes from Belmont Park should give more definition to the June 8 Belmont Stakes, which is expected to attract its largest field since 15 ran in 1983. . . . The Met Mile and Jersey Derby will be simulcast to Pimlico/Laurel tomorrow. A full field of 14 is set for the Met, while 8 go in the Jersey Derby. Luzzi rides Maryland-based Wind Splitter in the Met. . . . Cojinx, one of the top female sprinters in Maryland the past 2 years, has been retired because of a tendon injury. The 5-year-old mare will be bred next month to Dixieland Band. . . . Surely a hunch player or 2 bet on Recall the Marker in yesterday's first race because of Hansel's victory in the Preakness. Recall the Marker, who paid $7.60 to win, is owned by Larry Hansel.