Laurel stakes draw small fields

October 08, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

Short-priced favorites in small fields figure to dominate the action in the three graded stakes carded this weekend at Laurel Race Course.

New Jersey invader Avie's Fancy is the lone graded stakes winner in today's $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Trainer Mark Perlsweig scratched the filly from the Rare Perfume Stakes at Belmont Park last weekend to go in this spot, which he is using as a prep for the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes at Keeneland Race Course on Oct. 29.

"Good thing I came, or the race [the Martha Washington] might lose its grading," Perlsweig said. The only other stakes winner in the eight-horse lineup is Lady Ellen, who won a minor stakes last spring at Hialeah Park.

"My strategy? Go to the lead and say 'See you later,' " said Perlsweig. His father, Dan Perlsweig, trained the horse's sire, Lord Avie, the 2-year-old colt champion in 1980, and Mark Perlsweig trained the filly's dam, Fancy Pan, who won the Lady Baltimore Stakes at Pimlico in 1989. Avie's Fancy is the mare's first foal.

Tomorrow, New York invader Stormy Blues figures to attract most of the betting action in the $100,000 Selima Stakes.

Her Hall of Fame conditioner, Scotty Schulhofer, is candid about why he's shipping the filly to Laurel and not running her today in the Grade I Frizette Stakes at Belmont Park.

"I'm ducking Flanders," Schulhofer said about the short-priced Frizette favorite who has soundly beaten Stormy Blues in her last two starts. "I don't care to run against her again, especially in a short field where she can set her own pace," Schulhofer said. "I figured I'd come down here and let my filly win a race and then go after Flanders for a $1 million pot [in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5].

Schulhofer added that the filly's owners, Harriet and David Finkelstein of Pikesville, "are anxious to run her in Maryland, and I'm happy it's working out that way."

Schulhofer is trying for his second Selima victory. He won the race in 1986 with Collins, when the stakes was run at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt.

Vice president of racing Lenny Hale said Maryland trainers "have been screaming to get the Selima moved off the turf for years. We do it, and then no one wants to run against Stormy Blues."

Other tracks with marquee horses drew similar small fields in major 2-year-old filly stakes this weekend. Only four horses are expected to run against Call Now in the Grade I Oakleaf Stakes at Santa Anita Park, and the Frizette drew four fillies to compete against Flanders.

The Selima field might even shrink by post time tomorrow. Marilyn Goldman, the trainer of local star Miss Claratius, said the filly is feeling so good "that she managed to rip off her blanket and both front bandages in her stall Thursday night. When I got to the barn yesterday morning, she had grabbed her [front] heel and had a small cut there. There is some filling, so it's up in the air if she'll run."

On Monday, the likely favorite in the $100,000 Laurel Futurity is the Bud Delp-trained entry of Western Echo and Spanish Halo.

Western Echo, who won the Bernard P. Bond Stakes in his last start at Pimlico, gets blinkers for the first time. Edgar Prado will ride the horse, and Jeff Carle will be aboard Spanish Halo.

At least one out-of-town shipper, Top Draw, is expected for the Futurity. He won his last start at Calder Race Course in Miami on Sept. 24. His trainer, Cam Gambolati, won the 1985 Kentucky Derby with Spend A Buck.

NOTES: Two horses with Maryland connections are scheduled to run today on the Super Saturday II card at Belmont. Robert Meyerhoff's Tennis Lady is entered in the Beldame Handicap, which drew such a small field that it will be a betless exhibition. Laurel-based trainer Barclay Tagg is running the favorite, Royal Mountain Inn, in the New York Turf Classic. . . . Arnold Heft's old stakes star, Pulverizing, has been retired and will parade between races at Laurel today in a retirement ceremony. The horse, who earned $497,172, will stand at stud next year at Edmarve Farm near Frederick.

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