The day dawned cool and wet, and Carlos Garcia was happy.
Trainer of Brilliant Brass, Garcia said he knew yesterday's $100,000 Gallorette Handicap "was going to come off the grass" and onto a sloppy main track.
Because of the switch off the turf, Grab the Green, the overnight favorite, was scratched and Brilliant Brass assumed his role.
But the Maryland-bred filly wasn't home yet. She had to out-fight a game Spanish Dior through a stretch duel to win by a nose, earning $60,000 for her owner, Elaine Bassford.
"My main concern was the [muddy] track," said Garcia. "She never even worked on it and we went back in the records and she never ran on it. She just had too much class for these horses."
But not much more than the speed horse in the field, Spanish Dior, who set an honest pace under Greg Hutton, then came back at Brilliant Brass after losing the lead through the stretch.
They were even a stride from the wire, with Brilliant Brass coming forward on the bob.
"When that horse came to me, I thought she was going to run right by me," said Hutton. "My horse gave me 100 percent."
Winning jockey Edgar Prado, who captured his 10th Maryland stake of the year, said Hutton's horse "started to come out first, then my filly drifted out. That filly came back and it was close."
Elaine Bassford-owned horses have now captured six stakes events this year, including three by Brilliant Brass, who has never lost at a distance and has 10 victories in 17 lifetime starts. She has been out of the money only twice.
"We can't believe it," said Bassford. "It's everybody's dream to have a year like this. We're going to enjoy the up time. It may not last."
Garcia did not want to run Brilliant Brass on what would have been her first time on the turf, but he didn't have to. The Gallorette was switched to the main track for the sixth time since 1979.
Now Garcia is pointing the filly for the $100,000 Geisha Handicap the day after the Preakness. After that, the next possibility is the $250,000 Pimlico Distaff June 20.
"For sure, we'll be there," said the trainer.
* Trainer Billy Boniface said the connections of John the Bold "will map out a new plan" after the horse bled following a dull eighth-place finish in the Federico Tesio Stakes on Saturday.
The loss erased John the Bold from the Kentucky Derby picture.
"He came back cool, clean and sound otherwise, but he bled pretty good," said Boniface. "On a scale of 10, it was probably an eight. We'll put him on an antibiotic program."
Boniface said he believed John the Bold "was going to run real big" after a victory in the Deputed Testamony Stakes, but he was never in the Tesio hunt.
"We've got to go a different way now," he said. "A lot of 3-year-old spots are open, but we haven't really decided which way to go."
NOTES: Because of extremely short fields, there was no Double Triple wagering yesterday and Triple wagering was eliminated from the feature. Only the fifth, seventh and 11th races had fields larger than six horses. . . . Business is picking up at Rosecroft Raceway. The daily average has risen to $500,480 after 46 cards at the harness track, the first time it has climbed over the half-million mark since July 1990. It is an increase of 16.5 percent over the corresponding period last year. Simulcast wagering at Delmarva Downs is partially responsible with betting there on Rosecroft events up a whopping 26.7 percent. . . . Post time for the Derby-day card at Pimlico on Saturday will be noon, an hour earlier than usual. . . . Mark Johnston had four winners on Saturday's card, including three in a row, and Joe Rocco and Larry Reynolds had doubles yesterday.