Sloppy tracks often produce long-shot winners, but two fillies in Laurel Park stakes yesterday scored decisive wins as the heavy favorites on a wet strip and will now go after richer purses.
Secret Prospect, the 9-5 choice, led wire-to-wire in the Fair Star Stakes and earned a spot in the starting lineup of the Dec. 2 Heavenly Cause Stakes, which is nearly double in value of yesterday's $37,475 race.
Delaware Handicap winner Night Fax, who is bred to run marathon distances, pulled her jockey, Jeff Carle, to the lead around the final turn and held on for a 1 3/4 -length win in the Nobiliary Stakes at 1 1/4 miles.
She was the 2-5 favorite and is likely to go next in the Grade II $100,000-added Ladies Handicap at Aqueduct on Dec. 16.
Although stakes races usually are reserved for weekends, Laurel carded the pair of added-money races yesterday because it was Election Day.
Secret Prospect, a daughter of Maryland's leading sire, Allen's Prospect, cost New Jersey owner Robert Hahn $29,000 at last spring's 2-year-old-in-training sale at Timonium. She is Hahn's first stakes winner since he entered the game three years ago with trainer John Tammaro III.
Tammaro brought in his Meadowlands rider, Carlos Marquez Jr., to handle the filly and said he will ship the horse back to Maryland for the Heavenly Cause. He then might stretch her out to the 1 1/8 -mile distance of the Maryland Juvenile Fillies Championship on Dec. 23.
Unlike Secret Prospect, Night Fax was a sales reject.
"Twice we tried to sell her, first as a weanling and then as a yearling," said Jill Gordon-Moore, manager of Audley Farm, which owns the horse. "But she was bought in both times for $12,000. People just weren't familiar with the German breeding in her pedigree. The same goes for another of our stakes winners, Nellie Custis. We couldn't get $1,400 for her at Timonium."
Audley, located in Berryville, Va., is a commercial operation and sold three 1995 stakes winners -- Miss Union Avenue, Lilly Capote and the European runner Ladoni.
"What we don't sell, we keep and race," said Gordon-Moore. "Our new motto is: "We sell the best, and win stakes with the rest.' "
New Lasix rules begin
Horses stabled at Laurel Park can now be treated with Lasix in their own stalls and don't have to be taken to a special Lasix barn several hours before race time. The new rule will free up stalls in the Lasix barn and allow them to be used for permanent stabling.
Trainer David Walters is expected to bring his 16-horse string in from the Charles Town racetrack this weekend and occupy part of the Lasix barn.
Pimlico to stay open
Laurel/Pimlico GM John Mooney Jr. said yesterday that unless "we lose about 500 horses in the next few weeks -- and we don't think we will -- then it's likely Pimlico will stay open for training this winter."
Laurel is full and there are about 200 empty stalls at the Bowie Training Center, Mooney said. "But that's not going to accommodate the 500 horses we have at Pimlico," he said.