Gala Spinaway returns to form

November 21, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Going into yesterday's Walter Haight Handicap at Laurel Race Course, Gala Spinaway had lost his past three races.

But that didn't fool the Maryland bettors, who still made him the 8-5 favorite in the six-horse field.

The old horse delivered, coming from off the pace to beat Northern Launch by a head and win his 14th race in 38 career starts.

The $33,000 winner's share increased his total earnings to $660,907.

Gala Spinaway is part of the legacy left by the late Bernie Bond, whose stable was taken over last spring by his 29-year-old assistant, Graham Motion.

Motion has won nine races at the current meet and ranks fourth in the trainers' standings. He has been sending winners out at a 33-percent clip, tops among the leading conditioners. In addition to Gala Spinaway, his stakes runners include Waqueen and Bounding Daisy, who has started back to work after a long vacation that began after he finished third in the Sir Barton Stakes on Preakness Day.

Motion said Gala Spinaway had excuses in his past couple of races, clipping heels in the Grade III Norristown Handicap at Philadelphia Park "and nearly going down. Then in his last start [the Challedon Handicap], he just never got in the race."

Yesterday, the horse returned to his favorite distance at 1-1/8th miles and was also reunited with regular jockey Mario Pino. Pino could not ride the horse in the Norristown because of commitments in the Maryland Million -- which was run on the same day -- and in the Challedon, where he had the mount on the winner, Smart Alec.

Pino said he was a little concerned yesterday when Ameri Valay outran Northern Launch early to take an easy lead. But Edgar Prado rode Northern Launch with confidence and waited until the top of the stretch to breeze by Ameri Valay. Northern Launch looked like a sure winner until Gala Spinaway made his late bid.

Owners Skip and Gertrude Leviton said Gala Spinaway will continue to race next year as a 6-year-old.

NOTES -- Two of Gala Spinaway's rivals in the older Maryland-bred ranks skipped yesterday's race. Valley Crossing finished third in the Hawthorne Gold Cup and Forry Cow How ships out Tuesday to run Friday in the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. . . . Track official Rusty Zimmerman is giving up his job in the Laurel racing office for a new career as a jockey's agent. On Tuesday, he starts booking mounts for Austreberto Salazar. . . . According to Chickie Grayson of the Enterprise Foundation, plans still are on for construction of a new backstretch dormitory at Laurel. . . . Orioles owner Peter Angelos' Spartan Victory, recently third in the Damon Runyon Stakes at Aqueduct, won't run again until next year. Meanwhile Angelos' filly, Cormorant's Flight, is expected to start at Laurel on Thursday in the Straight Deal Handicap.

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