Fighting Notion back as Laurel opens card

September 27, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

The first live card of the Laurel Race Course fall meet was expected to get off to a fast start today when track record-setter Fighting Notion returns to competition in the $30,000-added Chase Me Stakes after a year and a half on the shelf.

The litany of injuries that the 7-year-old gelding has survived is nearly as long as the list of entries for Saturday's Maryland Million.

During his five-year career, the horse has bowed a tendon, strained a suspensory ligament, popped splints (bone growths) on each front leg and then broke a bone in his foot during the running of the Fire Plug Stakes in April 1993.

Between his series of major injuries, the horse has won nine of 26 starts, earned $226,544 and set the record for six furlongs of 1 minute, 8 seconds, which still stands at Laurel.

The Fire Plug was his last start, and his trainer, Nancy Heil, says the flashy old horse is as good as he ever was. "Let's put it this way, he's training as good and strong as ever," Heil said. "I really didn't want to start him back in a stakes, but I entered him a couple of times [in lesser races], and they didn't fill. I don't know if I have him tight enough to run hard and fast the whole way today."

Fans arriving at Laurel will see a spruced-up track that appears as rejuvenated as Heil's old gelding.

There are improved entrances, 100 new television sets with banks of TVs set up in added mini-simulcast theaters, new signage and rebuilt exterior fencing.

The improvements are noticeable and will be continue to be made during the meet, according to properties manager Terence Casey.

Important programs at the meet include Saturday's 12-race Maryland Million and the four-race International Turf Festival on Oct. 15-16.

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