LAUREL -- Favored His Ginger, named after the famous dancer Ginger Rogers, stepped her way into tougher competition by winning the $50,000 added Genuine Risk Stakes at Laurel yesterday.
But she had little challenge after Land Running, the second choice and local favorite, was unruly in the gate, got left behind and never was a factor. Favored His Ginger romped to a $32,715 winner's share by nearly five lengths over Starlight Surprise.
Owned by Leonard Pearlstein of Philadelphia, who has 16 horses in training here, Favored His Ginger was held just off the pace by jockey Walter Guerra, who urged her to the front as they turned for home.
The margin was widening at the finish as the 3-year-old filly by Fred Astaire won for the fifth time in eight lifetime starts. The time of 1 minute, 46 3/5 seconds was the slowest of the four runnings of the stake at 1 1/16-miles.
"She seems to like this track," said Pearlstein. "We'll try the big girls in Kentucky, but I wish the Ashland [Stakes] was run at Laurel," added trainer Ron Benshoff.
No wonder. Favored His Ginger is 4-for-4 over the Laurel surface.
After the Ashland Stakes April 18 at Keeneland, the plan is start Favored His Ginger in the Kentucky Oaks May 1 at Churchill Downs.
The most disappointed man at the track had to be Berkley Kern, trainer of Land Running, who has taken the filly from an $8,500 maiden tag to stakes competition.
"As long as she's not hurt, I don't care and I'll run her," said Kern. "But I'll have to school her in the gate again."
Rider Clarence "Jo Jo" Ladner said Land Running "got a little rowdy in the gate, reared up and broke in a tangle. The race was over then."
Kern predicted a victory for a horse which had not been off the board in eight previous starts, but lauded Ladner for "not trying to beat the hell out of her and letting her go.
"There's a little spot in the gate where you can put your head. She turned her head and up she went."
But the trainer was philosophical, too, while saying he might run Land Running back in the 6-furlong Politely Stakes at Pimlico March 26 (opening day at the track) if she is unharmed.
"I'll get another dance," he said. "There are plenty of other races. I just have to make sure she behaves."
NOTES: Maryland-based jockey Frank Douglas also had a stakes success yesterday, riding Val De Nay to a 1 1/4-length tally in the $26,600 Hemlock Stakes at Philadelphia Park. . . . Benshoff scored a double on the Laurel card, also training Top Tart, $12.40 victor in the first. Top Tart was ridden by Benshoff's nephew, Larry Saumell. Guerra also had a double, scoring with Sloans Curve in the third in addition to the stakes victory. . . . Andrea Seefeldt participated in the handicapping seminar yesterday morning, then notched her second victory since returning from a fractured collarbone with Prince Dekalb in the second. . . . The team of trainer Carroll Hawkins and leading jockey Edgar Prado won in consecutive races, the eighth and ninth, with Majestic Game and Justins Testamony, respectively.