LAUREL -- Fortunate Lance, who was beaten in a claimer at Garden State Park 10 days ago, ruined the comeback yesterday of former Preakness starter Fighting Notion.
The 4-year-old gelding, ridden by Edgar Prado and trained by Dale Capuano, rallied from off the pace set by Fighting Notion and beat the chestnut front-runner by three-quarters of a length in the $19,000 Laurel feature.
Fighting Notion took the early lead after favored Mighty Melody stumbled leaving the gate. He set quick fractions under a hand ride by Albert Delgado, getting six furlongs in 1 minute, 10 seconds. But he faltered in the final stages and was caught by Fortunate Lance.
The final time for the 6 1/2 furlongs was 1:16 3/5 -- 1 1/5 seconds off the track record.
Capuano said he had no specific plans for Fortunate Lance, but probably will nominate him to the $200,000 General George Stakes on Feb. 17.
Fighting Notion, who led until the top of the stretch in the 1990 Preakness and ended up fifth, was making his first start in 17 months. Trainer Nancy Heil said she believes he strained a suspensory ligament in his left foreleg in the race, but didn't come up lame until he finished 11th in the 1990 Ohio Derby.
Earlier in the card, trainer Howard Wolfendale, 35, won first time out with Colonel Hill, who he had claimed Nov. 22 from the horse's previous owner, Victor Divivo.
Divivo had fired Wolfendale last winter and sent the horse to Leroy Jolley in New York, even though Wolfendale had won stakes with the colt.
"He [Divivo] didn't think I could train the horse to his greatest potential," Wolfendale said. "I haven't spoken two words to him since then."
After a failed career in New York, Colonel Hill returned to Maryland and was trained by Barclay Tagg. When Tagg entered him for a $20,000 tag, Wolfendale took him back.
"At the time, I thought it was a gutsy claim," Wolfendale said. The horse was beaten 40 lengths that day on a sloppy track.
"He was sour, and physically was about 200 pounds underweight," Wolfendale said.
Wolfendale said he had worked Colonel Hill only twice before yesterday's race. "I really didn't think he was tight [fit] enough to win," he said. But he did, lasting by a nose over Rambo Phil in the fourth race.
NOTES: Forry Cow How was scratched from today's $50,000 Native Dancer Handicap because trainer Ron Cartwright is unhappy about the 117-pound weight assignment. . . . Larry Reynolds, a 21-year-old jockey who has won six riding titles at Charles Town, starts riding full time today at Laurel. Reynolds has won more than 1,000 races. . . . Maryland horses continue winning stakes out of town. Locally based His Ginger won the Busanda Stakes at Aqueduct on Saturday, following the exploits of Wood So in the Interborough Handicap and Grab The Green in the Black Helen Handicap at Hialeah. . . . Rumaro, the dam of Val de Nay who finished third in yesterday's feature, was purchased for $38,000 last week at the Keeneland Sales by Kentucky Gov. Brereton Jones. Jones plans to breed the mare, who is in foal to Private Terms, to Citidancer, who stands at Country Life Farm in Bel Air.