Ameri Valay wins Native Dancer by 3 1/2 lengths

January 19, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Nick and Elaine Bassford campaigned a quartet of stakes winners last year.

From that foursome, the only one still competing in added-money races is Ameri Valay.

The Bassfords made the decision during the weekend to retire their chief bread-winner, Brilliant Brass.

But yesterday, Ameri Valay started 1993 the same way Brilliant Brass ended 1992 -- by winning a stakes.

He had the benefit of a 4-pound weight shift from Forry Cow How, who had beaten him in his last start, and dropping back to his best distance, 1 1/8 miles, Ameri Valay coasted to a 3 1/2 -length victory in the Native Dancer Handicap at Laurel.

Jockey Larry Reynolds set slow early fractions and had plenty of horse left at the top of the stretch. By the time they reached the wire, Reynolds had virtually pulled up the horse, who ran the nine furlongs in 1 minute, 49 4/5 seconds.

"I love speed horses," said trainer King Leatherbury. "If you can get them to set slow fractions, it makes all the difference in the world."

Baron De Vaux rallied for second, 3 1/4 lengths in front of Forry Cow How.

"Different day. Different distance," is how jockey Mike Luzzi summed up his ride on Forry Cow How.

Ameri Valay increased his earnings to $260,285. The Bassfords had claimed him about this time last year for $35,000.

Elaine Bassford said the key element in the decision to retire Brilliant Brass was to "let her go out a winner."

The 6-year-old mare came back lame after winning her ninth stakes in the All Brandy Handicap at Laurel on Dec. 27.

Mrs. Bassford said the mare has recovered from what had been diagnosed as a bruised foot.

"But, we thought, What more can she prove?"

They plan to breed her to a yet undecided upon stallion in Kentucky.

Of their two other 1992 stakes winners, Festive Feathers has descended into the claiming ranks, and Wait For The Lady is going to be bred. The Bassfords said they will probably breed her to Affirmed, winner of the 1978 Triple Crown.

Business down

Business at Laurel showed a slight decrease yesterday after an abysmal weekend during which betting declined about 30 percent from 1992. Track operator Joe De Francis laid the blame mostly on football (two championship games on Sunday), but also said t hat keno, full-card simulcasting at Charles Town and 24-race cards at Rosecroft, including 12 races simulcast from The Meadowlands, have all chipped away at Laurel business.

Laurel is not the only track experiencing difficulties. Santa Anita has had 16 straight days of running on off tracks. On Sunday, the last race was canceled due to poor track conditions.

Bill update

A bill that will allow full-card simulcasting at Laurel is expected to be introduced in the General Assembly either today tomorrow.

Whata Special Lady

Edgar Prado was aboard Whata Special Lady on Sunday when she worked a half mile in 48 3/5 seconds. Owners Barbara Anderson and John Guest plan to run her in the Jameela Stakes at Laurel on Jan. 30.

What a special invitation

Joan Belotti of Haymarket, Va., is throwing a party at her Hi Rock Farm on Sunday for her stallion, Rambo Phil. The invitation reads: "Wanna see a great torso? Wanna see a super new stud? Come and check out our Rambo Phil. Your broodmares will be glad you did."

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