Locals have home-turf advantage Familiarity helps in International

October 19, 1992|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

LAUREL -- The International Turf Festival at Laurel Race Course concluded yesterday with a sweep by local horses and jockeys in the final two events.

It is the first time in the six runnings of the Turf Festival that a local horse or trainer had won any of the races, which annually attract some top European runners.

"It's nice to keep the money at home," said Vinnie Blengs, after Booly, the filly the Laurel-based horseman trains, won the $200,000 Selima Stakes.

On Saturday, Mike Luzzi and Rick Wilson sat in the jock's room and watched while Alan Munro, Thierry Jarnet and Laffit Pincay Jr., jockeys with world-class reputations, swept the first three and most prestigious Turf Festival races.

But yesterday, their turn came.

Luzzi came from off the pace in the Selima Stakes with the lightly regarded Booly, a maiden who had never even breezed on the Laurel turf course, and posted a 1 1/4 -length victory over Foxy Ferdie, a Canadian horse ridden by Julie Krone.

Booly returned $34.20.

Two races later Wilson guided 15-1 long shot Lord of the Bay to a wire-to-wire win in the Laurel Futurity. France's Glorieux

Dancer, one of the three favorites in the 11-horse field, never mounted a serious challenge, finishing three lengths behind the Laurel-based colt.

Lord of the Bay paid $32.

Times for the two races at 1 1/16 miles over the grass course, upgraded from yielding on Saturday to firm yesterday, were nearly identical. Booly was timed in 1 minute, 45 1/5 seconds, a fifth of a second faster than Lord of the Bay.

Booly was one of two fillies that Blengs had entered in the Selima.

Florida bloodstock agent Seymour Cohen, who lives in Miami, had purchased both Booly and Morphonyess out of the Keeneland (Ky.) sales as weanlings, paying $14,000 for Booly and $4,000 for Morphonyess. He tried to re-sell them as yearlings, but bought both of them back when they failed to meet their reserve bids.

Morphonyess was the first to prove herself, finishing second in two grass stakes. The day before the Selima, Cohen sold her to Louis Roussel III, the New Orleans horseman who won the 1988 Preakness with Risen Star.

Blengs' regular stable jockey, Edgar Prado, had his choice of the two mounts and selected Morphonyess. She finished sixth.

Meanwhile, Luzzi came from next to last with Booly and overtook front-runner Shy Minstrel about 200 yards from the wire. Krone mounted a belated rally on the inside with Foxy Ferdie, finishing 3 1/4 lengths in front of the tiring Shy Minstrel.

Luzzi said he wasn't that surprised by the win. "Based on what they [Blengs and Cohen] told me [before the race], I thought she was 2-1 [odds]."

Cohen is considering running Booly in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies race in two weeks.

"Even though the Breeders' Cup is on the dirt, I liked the way she relaxed today and made the big late run," he said. "She can

handle dirt, too."

Nine days ago Booly narrowly missed breaking her maiden in a sprint on Laurel's main track.

The Laurel Futurity started off with some unexpected antics by the Canadian colt Explosive Red. As the horse was being led from the paddock, he reared and fell on the tarmac, pitching his rider, Mark Larsen, into a nearby support beam.

Larsen hurt his back, and the colt cut his knee.

But after regaining his composure, Larsen re-mounted the unruly colt and both started in the race. Explosive Red made a nice run to reach second place by the final turn, but flattened out in the stretch.

The win by Lord of the Bay marked an incredible year for 28-year-old trainer John Salzman Jr. and his father. The younger Salzman runs the family stable, while his dad scouts the sales looking for racing prospects. Salzman said that the outfit has won about 30 2-year-old races this year. One of their other runners, Haggles 'N Hassles, finished fourth in the Selima.

Business-wise, the two-day Turf Festival ended yesterday on an anticlimactic note. Combined attendance and wagering for the two cards was down nearly 20 percent, an enormous decline from a year ago.

Track operator Joe De Francis at tributed yesterday's decrease to a Redskins football game. "Last year, on Sunday, we didn't go up against football," he said. He anticipated Sunday's decline, but was more disappointed in Saturday's figures when "we had great weather and a good card."

De Francis said he and his staff will re-evaluate the Turf Festival. "It would be nice to run all five stakes on one day," he said. "But that is too much wear and tear for the turf course. If we had weather like this past weekend, it would be OK. But if it rained, we couldn't do it."

Turf Festival stats

Laurel-Pimlico simulcast figures from the International Turf Festival:

Year .. .. Att. .. .. .. Handle

.. .. 39,486 ... .. $4,884,727

1992 .. .. 32,486 ... .. $3,950,385

Note: 1992 commingling from six sites on Saturday and five sites yesterday totaled $766,549. There was no commingling in 1991.

Turf Festival winners

Horse (Country) Jockey

Budweiser International (Grade I) Roman (England) Alan Munro

All Along Stakes (Grade II) Marble Maiden (Fra.) T. Jarnet

Laurel Dash (Grade III) Glen Kate (U.S.) L. Pincay Jr.

Selima Stakes (Grade III) Booly (U.S.) Mike Luzzi

Laurel Futurity (Grade III) Lord Of Bay (U.S.) Rick Wilson

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