LAUREL -- Luramore splashed to the first stakes win of her young career on a dreary afternoon at Laurel Race Course yesterday.
The filly's victory in the $43,500 Marshua Stakes came some three hours after a spill that sent jockey Joe Rocco to the hospital and forced his mount, Old Witch, to be destroyed.
Luramore, trained by Ben Perkins Jr., sped to the early lead on a track made sloppy by daylong rain. After pulling away from Willed and Anacreontic in the early stretch, she finished nearly two lengths ahead of Gala Prospector, the 3-2 favorite in a field of seven 3-year-old fillies.
"It was just a matter of slowing her down [early]," said Rick Wilson, who rode Luramore, a daughter of Mt. Livermore. The filly has won three of six starts for the Candy Stable.
In the day's second race, Old Witch had drawn off to an open lead and appeared an easy winner with 50 yards to go when she suddenly broke down in her left front ankle. Bobbling, she threw Rocco, who was not struck by any passing horses but lay virtually motionless in the mud for 15 minutes before being loaded into the track ambulance.
Rocco's agent, Tom Hauer, said last evening that Rocco had no fractures after being released from Howard County General Hospital. A Laurel first-aid nurse said Rocco, 32, had gone briefly unconscious in the minutes after the spill and had complained of considerable pain.
"He's sore, and we're just going to have to see when he can come back," Hauer said.
Old Witch, a maiden 3-year-old filly by Miswaki, was bred and owned by Bayard Sharp and trained by Charley Peoples. She was euthanized near the paddock runway 10 minutes after the incident.
Handle on the 11-race card that ended with the Flamingo Stakes simulcast corresponded to the accident and the dismal weather. Including Pimlico intertrack, the $1,480,542 total was the worst Saturday handle at Laurel or Pimlico since Maryland's intertrack system began in March 1988. The last time a Saturday handle dipped so low at either track was Oct. 17, 1987, when $1,341,115 was bet on a 10-race Pimlico card.
Edgar Prado, the meet's leading rider, and the trainer-jockey team of Jerry Robb and Greg Hutton did glimpse some brightness into the afternoon. Prado, the meet's leading rider, won four races, including the fourth aboard Absolutely Great, who is undefeated in three starts since coming under the care of trainer Eddie Gaudet. Robb gave Hutton a leg up on three winners.
NOTES: Luramore's stakes win was the third in 8 days for the Perkins stable. Manlove and Dr. Unright won last Saturday. . . . The defeat was the first in 3 career starts for Gala Prospector. . . . Jockey Rafael Pena, suspended 7 days on Friday for a riding infraction, has been penalized an additional 7 days for his ride aboard Ducere in the first race Friday. . . . With no "live" stakes scheduled today, the Hialeah Turf Cup simulcast serves as Laurel's main attraction. The race is the last of 11.