LAUREL -- Gala Spinaway returned to stakes-winning form yesterday on a surface he doesn't particularly relish.
The 4-year-old colt, a champion in state-bred company last year had not won a stakes since February. And he had only won one previous grass start in five attempts.
But under a textbook ride by Gregg McCarron yesterday in th Find Handicap at Laurel Race Course, the Bernie Bond-trained colt took the lead from pace-setters Creative Act and Fahrvegnuggen in mid-stretch. He then strode out well at the finish on a yielding turf course and held off a rallying Be Nimble for a 1 1/2 -length victory. Fahrvegnuggen finished third, followed by Creative Act.
McCarron, 43, went to the rail and saved ground for much of th race until he made his move approaching the final turn. He was caught in close quarters, but came from between horses in the stretch drive.
"This colt is a fighter,"McCarron said. "The more he's bumpe around, the better he likes it."
Gala Spinaway had tailed off in his form in April when he finishe last in the John B. Campbell Handicap at Pimlico.
"I think he was just sour," McCarron said. "He had been runnin a long time without a break. Bernie gave him a little rest and now he's responded. He only runs in stakes, about once a month, and I think that's a schedule he likes."
Gala Spinaway's $45,000 winner's share yesterday sent hi career earnings to $514,242.
He was timed during the 9 furlongs in 1 minute, 52 2/5 seconds the third slowest running of the Find Handicap. But the course was so soft from recent rains, that three other races scheduled for the grass course yesterday were switched to the main track.
No more Budweiser International
Anheuser-Busch, Inc. has apparently dropped their sponsorship of the $750,000 Laurel International, which had been known in recent years as the Budweiser International.
The brewing company had a three-year contract to sponsor the 1 1/4 -mile turf race. "But the contract ended last year. So far, they have not renewed it," said Timothy Capps, vice president of racing at Laurel.
Nominations for the race closed last month "and since we had not heard from the Budweiser people, we simply have referred to the race as the International in promotional and nomination literature," Capps said.
A total of 707 horses were nominated to the five-race International Turf Festival series which is run Oct. 17-18 at Laurel.
There are 101 horses nominated for the International itself, including the first three 1991 finishers, Leariva, Sillery and Goofalik.