Pimlico Race Course opened its final 1991 segment with plenty of surprises for horseplayers.
Musical Bride, a Charles Town invader, won the $44,700 Fair Star Stakes, culminating a day of long-shot winners. Musical Bride caught Duds, the odds-on favorite, in the final yards of the five-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies.
"When I went to left-handed [whipping], there was no doubt," said jockey William Sollars Jr., who was winning the first stakes race of an 11-year career. "This feels fantastic."
Musical Bride, a daughter of Wavering Monarch, won by a neck when finishing in 59 1/5 seconds on a fast track. Pretty Nice was another half-length back.
At 13-1, Musical Bride was the second-longest shot in a field of six -- but then, boxcar payoffs were the rule from the outset of the 10-race program. The first five races were won, in order, by Cool Slang (20-1), On the Upbeat (20-1), Caverol (28-1), Dr. Tom (6-1) and Weque Moonwave (25-1).
Caverol was guided by veteran Michael Hunter, who was riding for the first time since June 4, when he broke his wrist in a Pimlico spill. Hunter hustled Caverol into a contending position in the third race before the gelding exploded past Terrific Hope for an 11-length score.
"I've never been so anxious to get back," said Hunter, 25. "Winning felt super good. You get three months off and you realize how fortunate you are to have a job you like. It makes you think."
The program was the first of a 25-day meeting that ends Oct. 8.
NOTES: Including Laurel inter-track, yesterday's attendance (10,122) was down 1.3 percent from the 1990 Pimlico fall opener, while handle ($1,279,248) was down 2.9 percent. . . . Wednesday rains led officials to move the Fair Star from the turf to the main track. . . . Steve Vaonakis is handling Hunter's assignments. . . . Apprentice rider Mark Chavez, in from Ohio, made his Maryland debut yesterday. . . . Doug Vair, the in-house television handicapper at Pimlico and Laurel, is the new oddsmaker for the tracks. . . . Trainer Ferris Allen has been suspended 15 days after one of his horses tested positive after a Timonium race for methocarbamol, a prohibited muscle relaxant.