LAUREL -- The Virginia Stallion Stakes, an obscure $40,000 race, is hardly the highlight of the year for Maryland racing. So despite a torrid race-long duel by two fillies, yesterday's renewal cannot be classified as great.
But the next race at Laurel Race Course was Absolutely Great. It was Absolutely Great, start to finish. The 3-year-old filly ran her record to 2-for-2 in Maryland with a victory as easily taken as Windswept Wings' was hard-earned.
Windswept Wings and her perfect record survived a determined effort from Carrtowns Margaret to win the Virginia Stallion. In a restricted race for 2-year-olds of both sexes, those fillies dominated for seven furlongs, with Windswept Wings edging away by nearly a length.
"I would have ridden her more confident if it was a regular [fast] track," winning jockey Edgar Prado said of the sloppy Laurel surface. "I guess she's a good filly."
Windswept Wings, based in New York with trainer Andrew Elder, has won all three of her starts. She paid $4.20 as the favorite in a field of nine.
Absolutely Great ($2.80) was once a New Yorker, having been trained by D. Wayne Lukas for the first six races of her career. But "she was bleeding bad," said owner William Rickman, "so we had to get her out of there."
Rickman turned the filly over to Eddie Gaudet, who has seen her win two Laurel allowances in dazzling fashion. The filly now competes while treated with the bleeder medication Lasix, which is banned in New York. Yesterday, she finished clear of a late bid from Social Launch while Mike Luzzi eased her in the final yards.
"She was doing it so easy," Luzzi said. The filly completed seven furlongs in 1 minute, 23 4/5 seconds; 30 minutes later, Marie's Playboy took the same time to win a higher-class allowance race.
NOTES: Michael Hunter's tough luck continues. The oft-injured jockey suffered a bruised right shoulder when Hail And Hasty, his mount in the first race, threw him in the post parade. Hunter went ahead and rode the horse to a last-place finish before taking off the rest of the day. He said last night that he would see an orthopedist today but hopes to fulfill riding obligations tomorrow. . . . Luzzi picked up a winning mount on Need Less Stress in the program finale, giving him 3 winners on the day and pulling him even with Prado atop the jockeys race. . . . Representatives for Box Alarm Stable II will appeal to the Maryland Racing Commission a stewards ruling that upholds the recent claim of Crown and Anchor by Gold-N-Oats Stable. The filly was transferred to trainer John Lenzini Sr. yesterday.