LAUREL -- When it rains, it's best to stay inside.
As a steady rain soaked Laurel Race Course yesterday, jockeys aware of that fact found shelter in the winner's circle. Horses staying near the rail won virtually every event on a 10-race program.
"The track looked like it stayed pretty packed down on the rail," said jockey Mark Johnston. "The dirt on the outside hadn't washed down to the rail. Tomorrow [today], it might change, and you might have a dead rail."
Johnston, riding Thirty Eight Coeds in the fifth, rode one of just two winners to maintain an outside course. "But I was on so much the best," said Johnston.
"The rail can get awfully good when it rains like this," said Mike Luzzi, who guided Thoughtful Light to a rail-clinging, 16-length win in the third race.
If a rail-favoring condition remains -- and such biases are known to be fleeting in racing -- Deputation, the probable favorite, could have some trouble in today's $150,000 Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship. The New York-based filly drew the No. 8 post in a field of nine, and her three career races have all come on fast surfaces.
"She's supposed to be a very nice filly," said Carlos Garcia, who will send out My Bunny and Suspect Terrain against her. "I've had some good sources telling me since April that she was going to be the best in this division."
The 1 1/16-mile race should indeed decide year-end honors among state-bred 2-year-old fillies. My Bunny is the only starter to ever race around two turns, but she is entered off a victory against less capable maidens. Suspect Terrain, Garcia said, is a much more likely candidate to become his fifth Maryland-bred divisional champion. The filly has won each of her two starts in dazzling fashion.
"I wanted to get a longer race in her before this, but none of her races would fill," said Garcia. "She's coming back in just nine days and I haven't been able to do much with her to get her ready for this."
NOTES: In a 20-year career, Garcia has trained these Maryland-bred titlists: Safely Kept (2-year-old filly), Super Cholo (2-year-old colt), Haymaker (2-year-old colt) and Squan Song (older mare, Horse of the Year). . . . The Hawthorne Gold Cup from Hawthorne Park in Chicago will be simulcast to Laurel/Pimlico today as the final event on an 11-race card. . . . Today's late Daily Double is on races 9 and 10. . . . Edgar Prado won 2 races yesterday, giving him a 40-39 lead over Mike Luzzi DTC atop the jockeys' standings. Luzzi rides Timely Warning in the Brooklyn Handicap today at Aqueduct, while Prado stays home to ride 9 at Laurel. . . . Lake Shore, ridden by Mario Pino, won yesterday's feature race at Laurel. The 3-year-old gelding angled off the rail entering the stretch and drew out to a 3-length victory over Rin Tin Bid. . . . The Ladies Handicap will be simulcast to Laurel/Pimlico tomorrow from Aqueduct. . . . Trainer Richard Small is serving a 15-day suspension for a medication violation in Pennsylvania. Until his return, his horses will compete in the name of Sid Watters, including Star Minister in today's feature. . . . Tong Po, a major disappointment after winning the Federico Tesio Stakes in March, has been retired to stud in New York after suffering a career-ending injury in October in his last race.