LAUREL -- Finder's Choice, which hadn't won a race since September, took the lead on the turn and stormed through the stretch to win the $60,000 Groovy Handicap yesterday at Laurel Race Course.
Finder's Choice, ridden by Walter Guerra, was 0-4 this year before yesterday's one-length victory. The 7-year-old Buckfinder
horse out of the Solo Landing mare Trial Landing, covered the six furlongs on the turf in 1 minute, 8 2/5 seconds -- 1 second off the track record.
Trained by Charlie Hadry, Finder's Choice won his 12th race in 41 career starts and boosted his earnings to $459,884.
"Charlie told me to warm up the horse good and I did," said Guerra. "He had been running long races and most of the other horses had been sprinting. I just waited and when I asked him he really took off."
Hadry said: "I wanted him warmed up good so he would lay up closer than normal to the pacesetters. He has a bad back leg and sometimes it needs time to heal, that's why his racing has been so sporadic."
Donald Miller, who rode the favorite, My Frenchman, said: "The race set up bad and we got sucked down inside. I was never able to get through. When you can't find racing room, you're not going anywhere."
Maryland horses score
Two Maryland-based horses, ridden by local jockeys, finished 1-3 in the $500,000 Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park.
Jolie's Halo, ridden by Edgar Prado, equaled the track record for the 1 1/8 -mile race, covering the distance in 1 minute, 46 4/5 seconds.
Valley Crossing, another Maryland horse with Andrea Seefeldt aboard, finished third. The place horse, Out Of Place, won its last race, the Baltimore Breeders' Cup, July 5 at Laurel.
Strike the Gold, the odds-on favorite, finished fourth, but is assured of the $750,000 bonus in the American Championship Racing Series.
Double triple hit
A Fort Washington woman, who wished to remain anonymous, won Laurel's double triple worth $36,813.30 by correctly picking the 1-2-3 finishers in third and fifth races.
Smart Angle Stakes today
Sentimental Tango, with Mike Luzzi aboard, and Icy Warning, to be ridden by Prado, are the likely favorites in today's Laurel feature race, the $40,000 Smart Angle Stakes.
Eight horses are scheduled to start in the six-furlong sprint for Maryland-bred 2-year-old fillies.
In addition to the live races, two races will be simulcast from Saratoga, a $33,000 one-mile allowance race on the turf and the $100,000 Ballerina Stakes, a seven-furlong race for older fillies and mares.
Lugh, to be ridden by Julie Krone, and Nucleus, with Pat Day aboard, are the top entrants in the one-mile race. Prospective Dolly, with R.G. David in the irons, and Shared Interest, with Krone to ride, are the likely favorites in the Ballerina.
Racing Commission meeting
The Maryland Racing Commission will hold its next meeting Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Delmarva Downs near Ocean City.
National Pic-6 planned
Pimlico, Delaware Park and Penn National will among the 15 tracks that will be used for the Thoroughbred Racing Association's three National Pic-6 races scheduled Sept. 12, Sept. 26 and Oct. 3.
The races in the events will be from features selected from stakes events run in Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The live telecasts of the races will be 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on each of the three Saturdays. Wagering will close five minutes before post time of the six races.