For nearly 1 1/2 years, trainer Nancy Heil nursed a strained tendon on 5-year-old gelding Fighting Notion.
During that time, owners Arlene and Herb Kushner paid bill after bill on the injured animal.
Yesterday at Pimlico Race Course, their patience and perseverance paid off.
The horse won the $42,175 Duck Dance Handicap, his first stakes victory since he set a stakes record in the Mister Diz Stakes at Pimlico more than two years ago.
The horse's task was made a lot easier when five of the nine horses in the field were scratched after the track came up muddy.
Since only four horses started, only win, place and exacta wagering were offered.
Heil said she considered scratching. "But I walked out on the track before the race, and the mud didn't even come up past my loafer. I recalled this horse liked an off track before he was injured. I just didn't want to run him on a slippery track, and this wasn't. It was more like wet sand. I noticed that my shoe left a print on the track after I walked on it, so we decided to go ahead and run."
NOTES: Dash For Dotty, ninth-place finisher in the Blue Grass Stakes, will run Saturday in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico. Trainer Bill Donovan originally thought the gelding had not been nominated. "But Henry Rosenberg [the horse's owner] had nominated him this winter at Gulfstream Park with [track operator] Joe De Francis. So we'll go ahead and run," Donovan said.