LAUREL -- Battenburg gave a beating to six rivals in the Bimelech Stakes at Laurel Race Course yesterday while the losing favorite's reputation took one.
Carrying Mike Luzzi to his 17th stakes victory of the year, Battenburg drove to a four-length victory in the $38,200, 6 1/2 -furlong race for 2-year-olds. Western Miner, the heavy favorite, finished fourth, 10 lengths back.
"I knew Carlos [Garcia, trainer of Western Miner] was high on his horse," said Gerald Delp, who saddled the winner in place of his father, Bud. "But once you looked at the form, my horse had a lot more seasoning."
Western Miner had been so impressive in winning his only start that the 8,750 fans at Laurel and the Pimlico Race Course intertrack outlet made him the 4-5 choice. After breaking well from the outside post in the Bimelech, the son of Gone West kept pace with the leaders. But with a quarter-mile left, it became obvious his first career defeat was imminent.
"He was laying perfect," said his jockey, Marco Castaneda, "but he just didn't kick it in."
While Western Miner labored, Battenburg, the third choice, was ready to unleash his bid. The colt rallied between Speakerphone and Coin Collector, angled to the rail, then quickly drew off, winning in 1 minute, 17 4/5 seconds and paying $11.80 to win.
Coin Collector finished second, another four lengths in front of Game Message.
Gerald Delp, 28, is in charge of the stable until Bud returns from Chicago for what has become an annual winter pilgrimage to Maryland. Gerald said 22 horses are already at Laurel; others are scheduled for arrival next week to coincide with that of his father.
Battenburg is by Timeless Native, whom his father had in the early 1980s at the height of his storied training career.
"I really liked my horse today, getting blinkers," said Gerald. "He'd been hanging, just laying in. He didn't do any fooling around today."
Battenburg's six prior starts had come in the Midwest, four of them at Delp's Chicago base at Arlington International Racecourse. The Bimelech, named for the 1940 Preakness Stakes winner, was the colt's third victory in seven starts and first in a stakes.
For Luzzi, the triumph increased his margin as the top 1991 stakes-winning rider on the circuit. The first of 17 -- all but one have come at Laurel or Pimlico -- came in February, in the $200,000 General George Stakes at Laurel.
NOTES: Laurel is usually dark on Mondays, but an 11-race program is being conducted today because of the Columbus Day holiday. . . . Jockey Clarence "Jo Jo" Ladner was not injured seriously in yesterday's last race when his mount, Bryan's Way, broke down badly at the top of the stretch, spilling Ladner. Bryan's Way, a 3-year-old gelding owned by Chip Reed and trained by Jerry Ferris, was destroyed. . . . Jolie's Halo worked 6 furlongs in 1:13 over the Laurel turf yesterday morning. . . . The "live" Queen Isabella Handicap and Kelso Handicap simulcast from Belmont Park highlight today's Laurel card. . . . Through 4 days of racing at the new Laurel meet, Mario Pino leads the jockeys standings with 5 winners. Michael Hunter has 4, and several others have 3. . . . The stewards have suspended steeplechase rider Blythe Miller 14 days and fined her $300 for "failure to take all measures . . . to win" when narrowly losing Saturday aboard heavily favored My Lear in the first race at Fair Hill Race Course.