LAUREL -- In their previous meeting, in the H.E. Johnson Handicap on Feb. 29, Valley Crossing couldn't handle either Gala Spinaway or Flaming Emperor and was beaten by almost five lengths.
But Valley Crossing had the hot jockey, Edgar Prado, up yesterday, and he rallied for an impressive victory in the $100,000 Jennings Handicap at Laurel Race Course.
It was one of five winners on the day for Prado, the first time he has accomplished that during the meeting. The outburst boosted his win total to 182 since the Laurel meet opened Oct. 10.
L Prado has won three races or more 13 times during that span.
Valley Crossing broke sluggishly but was within striking distance by the half-mile point of the 1 1/8 -mile event, as Haymaker set honest early fractions.
In the stretch, Robert Meyerhoff's colt had plenty of run and Haymaker and Flaming Emperor faded. Valley Crossing overtook Gala Spinaway in the final sixteenth and won by a length in 1 minute, 49 1/5 seconds.
"My horse started running pretty good past the three-eighths pole," Prado said. "In the last eighth, he just kept going."
Larry Saumell was riding Gala Spinaway with Gregg McCarron sidelined with a cracked tailbone.
"The colt ran well. He tried hard, made his run," Saumell said.
Gala Spinaway has three victories and two seconds in his past five outings, all stakes races.
Flaming Emperor was scratched to this spot from the $40,000 J. Edgar Hoover Handicap, which was run Saturday. His jockey, Santos Chavez, said he didn't think the horse "handled the track," which was listed as fast, despite snow flurries.
The most interesting entry was Timely Warning, idle since winning the Brooklyn Handicap at Aqueduct in November. He ran evenly to finish fourth.
Trainer Richard Small said Valley Crossing will start next in the $100,000 John B. Campbell Handicap on April 12 at Pimlico Race Course, where he will probably hook up again with most of the same rivals, including Gala Spinaway.
Both those horses are nominated for the $700,000 Pimlico Special on May 9.
Meanwhile, Prado, who won the Jennings aboard Silano in 1990, just kept rolling along, finishing off the late Daily Double with Semi Explodent in the last race.
His other victories were in the first (Lovely Josephine), fourth (Harundale) and eighth (Joshyer).
NOTES: The weather caused an adjustment in yesterday's schedule. The ninth race, a simulcast of the Westchester Handicap from Aqueduct, was stricken from the card when post times at the New York oval were moved back a half-hour because of the weather. The change would have interfered with post times at Laurel. As a result, Penn National, Garden State and Philadelphia Park all took the simulcast of the Laurel feature. Rubiano (6-to-5) won the Westchester by a nose over Out of Place (7-to-5). . . . The Pony-Trainer Championship, which involved 12 Maryland conditioners, was postponed because of the snow and will probably be rescheduled during the Pimlico meeting. . . . Two races will be run here as part of the Budweiser Breeders' Cup Special Stakes program, including the $150,000 Maryland Budweiser Breeders' Cup at six furlongs on Preakness Day at Pimlico. The other is the $175,000 Baltimore Budweiser Breeders' Cup on July 5 at Laurel.