LAUREL -- Shortly before Katy Voss left for a Caribbean vacation last week, she completed the sale of her 5-year-old mare, Wood So, to Louisiana oilman John Franks.
The price? Voss' assistant, Sandy Richardson Goodman, acknowledged it was in the $250,000 range, but would not give an exact figure.
It was quite a return for a horse who once competed in the $8,500 maiden claiming ranks.
Franks, twice the nation's leading owner (in 1983 and 1984), left the mare in Voss' Laurel barn. She promptly won her first start in his green-and-orange silks yesterday in a $30,000 prep for the upcoming Barbara Fritchie Handicap.
The public underrated the mare's exploits, sending her off at generous 3-1 odds even though she was coming off a graded-stakes win in the Interborough Handicap at Aqueduct. Silver Tango, unbeaten in her last three starts including the Francis Scott Key Stakes, was made the 8-5 favorite.
But Wood So ran like the short-priced choice. She accelerated in the stretch after front-runner Absolutely Great gave up and won by seven lengths over Silver Tango.
If fans were expecting a match race to develop, it never materialized.
"It was a lot easier than I thought it would be," said Mario Pino, aboard Wood So.
Silver Tango might emerge a lot sharper in the actual running of the Barbara Fritchie in three weeks, although her trainer Gary Capuano said, "She ran her race, but was just outrun. She got beat by a better horse."
Wood So has won nine of 20 career starts and $208,550. She has been campaigned sparingly by Voss.
"She's never been a really sound mare," Goodman said. "Katy has just been extremely patient with her."
The race was marred by an incident in the backstretch when Valleigh Bird fell at about the half-mile pole. "I thought she had had a heart attack, she went down so quick," said jockey Larry Saumell. "But then it felt like her stifle [hind leg joint] must have locked."
Both horse and rider escaped serious injury.
NOTES: A weeklong phone auction of 37 stallion seasons and shares starts today at Candyland Farm in Middletown, Del. The beneficiary is Greener Pastures, a horse retirement home in Chesapeake City. Seasons to such stallions as Opening Verse, Go And Go, Bet Twice, Two Punch and Horatius have been donated to the auction. Benefit chairman Herb Moelis hopes to raise between $60,000-$100,000 for the horse foundation. . . . Laurel seemed to be unaffected yesterday by the season's first snowfall. The track surface was graded after Saturday's races and was harrowed continuously through the night. . . . A total of $1.2 million was bet on the Super Bowl Sunday card, better than on some previous Sunday programs and followed a $2 million handle on Saturday. . . . Sam and Carolyn Rogers of Leesburg, Va. skipped making a trip to Florida to see their mare Splendid Try run yesterday in the Joe Namath Handicap. Instead, they drove to Laurel and watched the simulcast of the $50,000 stakes. "This way we could make it to a Super Bowl party on the way home," Mrs. Rogers said. Their mare fell during the running of the race. . . . Dr. Unright finished second yesterday in the Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct. He is owned by a partnership that includes Baltimoreans Frank Wright, Joseph Keelty and Leslie Legum as well as Herb Moelis.