Trainer Ron Cartwright goes for his sixth Maryland stakes win of the year today, running Miss Slewpy in the $75,000 Carousel Stakes nine days after the 3-year-old filly scored her first added-money victory in the Anne Arundel Handicap.
The Carousel Stakes is too good a race to pass up, a Grade III event with a large purse that has drawn only a six-horse field, even if it means Miss Slewpy will face older and more experienced opposition for the first time after only a short rest.
"There really is nothing else for her to run in right now and I don't think it will hurt her," Cartwright said. "She's had a light campaign and came out of her race on Thanksgiving Day in pretty good shape. She's shown she's ready to run again."
Cartwright plans to get an early start today, arising at 4:30 a.m. to get to the barn. He'll run five horses on the card and likes their chances in this order:
* Ygerne: Running in the sixth race, she'll wear blinkers for the first time. Cartwright feels the filly is in the right spot for her first win since July.
* Miss Slewpy: Buffels is the horse to beat, Cartwright said. "She's good right now and we'll find out how Miss Slewpy stacks up against these older fillies and mares. She has to run against them, anyway, after the first of the year."
* Hi Earl: The High Brite colt drops in for a tag in the first race and should be competitive.
* Sir Corbiere: "I tried to scratch him because he drew the outside 10-post," Cartwright said. "But the stewards wouldn't let him out [of the seventh race], and I guess I have to run him. I don't like the post."
* Thurmont: "He's in tough," Cartwright said. "He broke his maiden in his first start for a $10,500 tag, but I was hustled into this allowance race [the third race] by the racing staff. He's bred to get the 1 1/16th-mile distance, though."
So far, Cartwright has won a pair of stakes in Maryland this year with Mz. Zill Bear and one stakes each with Redcall, Say Capp and Miss Slewpy.
Longtime track employee dies
Benjamin Felton, 74, dining room captain at Laurel and Pimlico for nearly 40 years, collapsed and died in the Turf Club dining room at Laurel Park yesterday after suffering an apparent heart attack before the first race.
Brenda Handleman, executive director of Maryland Turf Caterers, said Felton had a history of heart problems and could have retired or worked part-time. "But he wanted to keep going. He just liked being here. He was a man of the old school -- a true gentleman and truly kind."
Handleman said maitre d' Michael Largo and an unnamed customer administered CPR, but it was to no avail.
RF Felton, who lived in Baltimore, is survived by his wife, Mary Lee.