Smart 'N Noble returns a winner

LAUREL NOTEBOOK

January 08, 1995|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

Smart 'N Noble, the Maryland-bred 2-year-old champion filly of 1993, spent most of last year nursing a sore knee on a Baltimore County farm.

But yesterday, she burst back on the racing scene with a gutsy, three-quarter-length upset over favored Queen Suite in the $54,625 Francis Scott Key Stakes at Laurel Park.

The 4-year-old daughter of Smarten, owned by Pat Nickel and her two sons, Steve and Stewart, of Timonium, is now considered a prime contender for next month's Barbara Fritchie Handicap, centerpiece of Laurel's winter season.

Mario Pino had his choice of mounts, rejecting Queen Suite, even though he thought she might be better at yesterday's six-furlong distance. He decided to stick with Smart 'N Noble, largely out of loyalty to the Nickels and trainer Dick Delp.

There was some question how Smart 'N Noble would handle the sloppy surface.

was kind of hoping the sun would come out and dry things up," Delp said. "Now, I'm thinking it's good that it didn't."

Instead of lagging behind in third or fourth, the filly relished the heavy going, immediately pressing Queen Suite for the lead and then digging in hard to defeat her in the stretch.

Mixed Appeal, last year's Fritchie winner, finished in a dead heat for fourth, failing to show her customary early speed.

Pino said he thinks Smart 'N Noble will suit the seven-furlong Fritchie distance perfectly. Delp indicated that the horse might have one more race before the Feb. 18 Grade II stakes.

Texas refuses Laurel signal

Sam Houston Race Park near Houston was scheduled to start televising Laurel's live daily card tomorrow, but has declined to take the signal until approval is received from the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.

The MTHA, mired in a contract dispute with Laurel/Pimlico management over a number of racing-related issues, is not renewing any simulcast agreements until the organization reaches a settlement with management.

The dispute might also postpone cards from the Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans from being simulcast into all Maryland wagering outlets. Simulcasts of the Fair Grounds races are scheduled to begin Thursday.

Miscellaneous

Nick Goodwin, a 19-year-old apprentice who has been riding at the California tracks, has arrived at Laurel and is expected to start accepting mounts this week. Goodwin has won 41 races, mostly in Canada and California, and rides with a 5-pound allowance through June. He came to Laurel on the advice of former Maryland trainer Joe Devereux, who is stabled at Santa Anita Park. Goodwin has lined up Gordon Becraft, who also represents leading jockey Mark Johnston, as his agent. . . . Jimmy D'Orta, who was recently named as the ninth member of the Maryland Racing Commission by outgoing Gov. William Donald Schaefer, took in the action at Laurel. D'Orta is a health care executive and nephew of prominent California horse owner Albert "Cubby" Broccoli.

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