LAUREL -- The offspring of Mr. Prospector have long been noted for speed and precocity. So when Manlove triumphed in the Congressional Handicap yesterday at Laurel Race Course, it was with a style seldom associated with his superstar sire.
The 4-year-old colt came from so far back that announcer Dave Rodman briefly lost sight of him in the early stages of the 1 1/4 -mile Congressional. But at the finish, Manlove was keenly in focus. He swept past his eight rivals to win by nearly two lengths over Valley Crossing, with Midas another three lengths back.
"I think he takes more after his mother's side," trainer Ben Perkins Jr. said. Manlove, ridden by Rick Wilson and owned by Mrs. Allaire duPont's Bohemia Stable, is by Mr. Prospector out of Thirty Flags, a daughter of Hoist the Flag.
The $75,000 Congressional was the first stakes victory for Manlove, who "was such a big, gangly horse when he was young that he had us scratching our heads for a while," said Perkins.
Perkins acknowledged the irony of Manlove being a late developer; Mr. Prospector, one of the greatest sires of the past 15 years, is more renowned for siring speedy 2-year-olds than stretch runners who win their first stakes just days before turning 5. Like all thoroughbreds, Manlove has a birthday Wednesday.
"He's such a long-striding colt that he's never run in a sprint," said Perkins. "He can't be rushed early and he needs a good pace in front of him."
The pace proved sufficient yesterday. After Learned Jake and J.R.'s Horizon gave way after six furlongs in 1 minute, 11 4/5 seconds, Valley Crossing moved to a short lead in mid-stretch. But then Manlove blew past on the outside, finishing in 2:02 1/5 on a fast track.
Valley Crossing, ridden by Mike Luzzi, was the 2-1 favorite, perhaps partly because Luzzi was enjoying such a big day. Luzzi won four races before the Congressional and the one that followed, giving him an 80-78 lead over Edgar Prado atop the jockey standings. One of Luzzi's winners, Silver Tango, increased her career mark to 8-for-10 when running down Valleigh Bird in a $25,000 allowance sprint.
Luzzi's lead should be short-lived. He has dropped an appeal of a suspension and will begin serving a 10-day penalty beginning tomorrow.
NOTES: Laurel president Joe De Francis said he had brief communications with a Jockeys' Guild representative yesterday but has not been notified whether the Maryland jockeys intend to ride Jan. 1 and thereafter. He said he remains optimistic that a work stoppage can be averted. . . . DuPont owned Kelso, the 5-time Horse of the Year in the 1960s. . . . Wilson won with 2 other mounts yesterday, and Alberto Delgado won with 2, giving Delgado 6 winners in the past 2 days. . . . First post is noon for programs of today, Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Wide Country heads a field of 10 Maryland-bred fillies in today's All Brandy Handicap. . . . Tuesday is the deadline to nominate foals and stallions to the Maryland Million program.