Fighting Notion always has impressed observers with his abundance of raw speed.
Now, whenever someone picks up a program at Laurel Race Course, evidence of his natural ability will be printed in black and white.
The 5-year-old gelding broke Northern Wolf's track record for six furlongs yesterday by a fifth of a second, winning the opening-day Housebuster Handicap in 1 minute, 8 seconds.
It was the horse's third career stakes victory for his owners, Herbert and Arlene Kushner, who purchased him as a 2-year-old for $25,000 at the Timonium sales.
"I can't believe it. It's like a dream," said trainer Nancy Heil, who is incredulous even though the horse has been in her barn for more than three years and has won $191,314 and seven races.
Heil took a chance yesterday and removed the horse's blinkers.
"I had put them on him as a young horse because he would prop a little bit when he came around the turn and saw the grandstand," she said. "But now he's mature, and I thought it would help him be more competitive if he saw other horses. I guess I had a little bit of nerve experimenting in a $40,000 race, but I'm glad it worked."
The horse's jockey, Albert Delgado, said, "Fighting Notion was all business. He was on the bit the whole way."
Seven horses started in the Housebuster, which is named for the Eclipse Award-winning sprinter and serves as a prep for the Frank De Francis Dash run at Laurel in two weeks.
The start was delayed a few minutes when Born To Shop prematurely broke through the gate.
Once he was re-loaded and the field broke, Fighting Notion immediately went to the front.
He was pressed most of the way by Stalker and then Val De Nay, but drew off in the stretch and won by three lengths. Val De Nay, a 14-1 long shot, finished second, 2 3/4 lengths in front of favored Smart Alec.
"I thought I would get some pressure early on from Kelly's Class [another speed horse], but he never fired," Delgado said.
Overnight rains had packed the Laurel track, and fast times were turned in all day. "I thought we'd have to go in 8 and change to win, but I didn't expect to break a track record," Heil said.
Fighting Notion went off at generous 5-1 odds after successive sprint losses in the Roseben Handicap at Belmont Park and an allowance race at Pimlico.
"He displaced his palate in the Roseben," Heil said, "and then was giving away 12 pounds when he was beaten [by Kelly's Class] at Pimlico."
Heil said she hopes to run Fighting Notion back in the De Francis Dash against such competition as Potentiality, Gray Slewpy and To Freedom.
NOTES: Delgado and Mike Luzzi each won three Laurel races yesterday. . . . Heil has a Slew O' Gold 2-year-old named Aaron's Gold for the Kushners that she particularly likes and has in training with the rest of her string at the Bowie Training Center. . . . Gretchen Mobberley, who was kicked in the stomach by a horse two weeks ago and was airlifted to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, "is doing a lot better," said her daughter, Bird, who said she should be released from the hospital soon.