LAUREL -- Danny Sorenson couldn't make it as a jockey on the Maryland circuit last year.
But yesterday the 34-year-old rider returned to Laurel Race Course from California and won one of the state's biggest races.
Sorenson guided Superstrike, a 3-year-old English import, to a 4 3/4 -length upset victory over another long shot, the filly Parisian Flight, in the $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash.
The race that seemed so contentious on paper and drew a bulky 12-horse field of equally matched sprinters turned into a showcase for the Bruce Jackson-trained runner that is headquartered at Belmont Park.
Sorenson picked up the mount only last week after the horse's regular rider, Jose Santos, broke his arm in a spill at the New York track.
The public, which sent Superstrike off at 13-1 odds, might have been surprised by the result.
But Jackson, who won four Grade I stakes in a row last year with another English import, In Excess, was not.
The 38-year-old former quarter-horse trainer said the same agent, Californian Richard Duggan, who found In Excess for him in England, also recommended Superstrike.
"And they both came from the same trainer," Jackson said.
David Kruse, who owns meat-processing plants in the Los Angeles area, purchased Superstrike last fall after the colt won one start as a 2-year-old on the all-weather racing surface at Southwell, a minor track in southern England.
"We've thrown him in with the wolves every time we've run him in America," Jackson said.
Superstrike previously finished third behind Dixie Brass and Big Sur in the Withers Stakes and then was beaten by Surely Six in his last start in the Jersey Shore Stakes at Atlantic City Race Course.
"But we were hooked in that race with Salt Lake," Jackson said. Superstrike won the speed duel, but got nipped at the wire by Surely Six.
Yesterday, many horses that figured prominently in the De Francis Dash didn't run their race. Favorite Sunny Sunrise, after running in route races, was simply outrun. Hooliganisim stumbled at the gate.
Parisian Flight took the early lead and was pressed immediately by Superstrike. Both horses had the two outside starting posts. Surprisingly there was no inside speed to challenge them until Southern Justice, who broke tardily, made a rush up to press Parisian Flight on the backside.
Sorenson took Superstrike back to third and then started to move with him on the turn.
Superstrike overhauled Parisian Flight at the top of the stretch.
Superstrike was timed in the six furlongs in 1:09 4/5 seconds, well off Fighting Notion's record of 1:08. However, the track was deep.