LAUREL -- A strong argument can be made that horses in New York are better than Maryland horses. Purses are higher, and reputations are certainly loftier. But when the New Yorkers ship south for rich races, they sometimes find themselves getting an equine version of the Maryland Shuffle.
It happened in both stakes events this weekend at Laurel Race Course. Yesterday, Sticks and Bricks drew off to an easy win in the Devil's Bag Stakes, while the 13-10 favorite -- the New York invader, Delray David -- ran a dismal last throughout the seven-furlong race.
"I looked at the tote board coming over," said trainer Dick Small, amazed at a relative lack of respect for Sticks and Bricks, "and I thought I was in the wrong race."
Sticks and Bricks, getting the bleeder medication Lasix for the first time, eventually settled in as the 3-1 second choice in a field of eight Maryland-bred 2-year-olds. He won by 5 1/4 lengths over Alexis's David, with Mephistopheles third, another four lengths back.
As Mephistopheles, a New York-based maiden, gunned to the early lead from his inside post, Sticks and Bricks settled into a favorable outside position. With a quarter-mile remaining, Sticks and Bricks cruised to the win under Mike Luzzi.
Luzzi, who has had a sensational year in Maryland stakes, said: "He had an excellent trip." The victory was the 19th for Luzzi in a 1991 stakes on the circuit.
Jean Luc-Samyn rode Delray David. "He ran so bad, I can't you what exactly went wrong," he said. Delray David, making his third career start, finished nearly 30 lengths behind.
On Saturday, three New York runners were entered in the Chrysanthemum Handicap, and none was higher than 6-1. They finished eighth, ninth and 10th in a field of 12.
Sticks and Bricks has never been worse than second in five starts. Small said the next start for the colt would probably be the Maryland Juvenile Championship at Laurel on Dec. 7. The race figures to decide Maryland-bred honors for the division, and Small is loaded for bear: He may also enter Sweep of Daylight, another talented colt.
Sticks and Bricks, a son of the all-time leading Maryland-bred, Broad Brush, became the second stakes winner for his sire. The first, Magical Brush, was a victim of tragedy. After winning a stakes at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, he was destroyed after a racing mishap at Louisiana Downs.