Finder's Choice finds a way at Laurel 7-year-old a surprise winner of Walter Haight Handicap

November 29, 1992|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

It seemed like old times.

The white and cherry silks of Stuart Janney Jr., which have been carried in Kentucky Derbies and Maryland Hunt Cups, showed up in the winner's circle at Laurel Race Course yesterday after Finder's Choice won the Walter Haight Handicap.

It might just have been another Saturday feature, a typical $50,000 weekend stakes, but Stuart Janney III, who inherited the horse after his father died four years ago, said it gave him a special feeling.

Finder's Choice along with Private Terms, the Wood Memorial winner that failed as the favorite in the 1988 Kentucky Derby, were in the last crop of 3-year-olds that Janney's father bred and lived to see race.

Private Terms is now retired and already has a crop of yearlings on the ground.

But Finder's Choice has kept running.

At age 7, it's likely he will have only one more race after the Haight.

"When I saw him [Finder's Choice] run today, it was special because he not only has so much heart," Janney said, "but he is also a link with the past."

The horse has a bum ankle, in his left rear leg, that fills up after he runs, Hadry said.

"That's why we kept him mostly on the grass this year," Janney said. "Not because he likes it so much, but so he wouldn't be pounding that leg on the dirt all the time."

When returned to the main track after six months and six turf starts, Finder's Choice raced with relish.

He stalked early pace-setters Flaming Emperor and He is Risen.

Then when jockey Rick Wilson asked him to run, he swept by Root Boy, who had taken over the lead going into the far turn, and won by 1 1/2 lengths over Buckingham Farm's Forry Cow How.

The latter horse, a 14-1 shot, made a move heading into the stretch, but couldn't make up ground on the winner.

Finder's Choice ran the nine furlongs in 1 minute, 48 2/5 seconds and paid $24.20 to win.

He had the fifth-longest odds in the nine-horse field. Coupled with Forry Cow How, the exacta paid $445.60, one of the largest exacta payoffs in a stakes at the meet.

The 3-2 favorite, Reputed Testamony, lagged far behind in the early running, and never fired, finishing sixth.

Hadry said he will take a long hard look at the horse and see how he comes out of the race. It's possible that Finder's Choice could race again in the Congressional Handicap at Laurel on Dec. 26 before being retired to stud.

Janney said he will not stand the horse himself. "But I'll look for a good spot for him."

He added that he currently has about 25 horses, including 10 broodmares. Six are boarded at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky. The other four are in Maryland.

His best runner, the filly Deputation, is now resting at Payson Park in Florida and will run again next year for his New York trainer, Shug McGaughey.

NOTES: Mike Luzzi took off his Laurel mounts and will be riding instead at Aqueduct today. Luzzi has the mounts on Days Dwindle Down and Asset Impression for trainer Eddie Gaudet at the New York track. . . . Bloodstock agent Rick Abbott will be a busy man next weekend at the Timonium sale of breeding stock, which will be held Dec. 6-7 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds. Abbott has 79 horses cataloged in the two-day auction. . . . Baltimore County agent Donald Litz is selling the last two mares owned by Eleanor Sparenberg's Ross Valley Farm. The showplace establishment, situated off I-83 north of Timonium, is on the market and is nearly devoid of horses.

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