LAUREL -- Starfield surged past McKilts in the final 70 yards to win the $56,800 Sensational Handicap at Laurel Race Course yesterday.
The late-running daughter of Spectacular Bid benefited from a fast early pace in the 1 1/16-mile turf race for older fillies and mares. She settled in sixth place under jockey Andrea Seefeldt before making a steady run to win by nearly a length.
McKilts was second, two lengths in front of favored Spendid Try. Vigorous Lady, the early leader, faded to fourth, another three-quarters of a length back.
"I had a sensational horse today," Seefeldt said over the track's public address system, the play on words very much intended.
The triumph was worth $34,080 for Starfield, owned by Robert E. Meyerhoff and trained by Richard Small. She paid $14 to win after completing the distance in 1 minute, 40 2/5 seconds.
"She's obviously a grass horse, and we knew that from the start," Small said of the $207,606-earner. "She has the breeding to get better."
NOTES: Vinnie Blengs saddled 2 winners yesterday and continued to lead all Laurel trainers. Mario Pino maintained a 32-30 lead over Jo Jo Ladner in the jockeys' race. . . . Edgar Prado, whose Laurel meet has been interrupted by out-of-town engagements and injury, rode 3 winners yesterday. . . . Between the eighth and ninth races, Round Table won Laurel's Ultimate Turf Challenge Sweepstakes, a mythical, television-replay race among some of the best turf horses in history. Secretariat finished second and John Henry third in a field of 15. Last year, in a similar Pimlico Race Course promotion, Kelso beat Secretariat and Spectacular Bid in an imaginary race at 1 1/4 miles on dirt. . . . Pre-entries for the sixth running of the Maryland Million on Sept. 8 at Pimlico are due by Aug. 22. Eleven races will be run, including for the first time the $50,000 Ryland Homes Steeplechase and the $15,000 Maryland, You Are Beautiful for amateur riders.