Cormorant's Flight rallies to Key victory Mare closes from 5th, wins by 1 3/4 at Laurel

January 07, 1996|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

A ground-saving trip and a wealth of late kick enabled Cormorant's Flight to rally from fifth yesterday to win the $53,950 Francis Scott Key Stakes at Laurel Park.

In a field bulging with speed horses going six furlongs, jockey Mario Pino settled his mount to the inside behind pacesetters Calipha and Pleasant Dilemma and came with a rush to prevail by 1 3/4 lengths over another late-running long shot, Princess Could Be.

The two entries who drew the heaviest play, Calipha and Two Punch Lil, finished at the back of the seven-horse pack.

"Horses started stopping in front of us, so I just eased her out and ran by," said Pino, Maryland's stakes-winning jockey champion last year. "She's very game with a good attitude and lots of ability."

Cormorant's Flight is out of the Marathon Farms' stable of Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who could not attend yesterday's card because of a prior commitment.

Cormorant's Flight had earned $249,858 before the race and added the $32,370 winner's share. The 6-year-old mare is now 9-for-36 lifetime.

"There was a lot of speed in here, so I told Mario just to let her settle and everything was fine. The race kind of set up for us," said trainer David Holstein.

"I thought it was extremely tough. Every horse had a shot to win, including mine."

Jockey Edgar Prado returned from a suspension temporarily to ride third-choice Oh Summer, but the filly never made a big charge despite getting into good position.

Prado said Oh Summer "made a little run on the turn but didn't keep it going." She finished fourth after gaining second in the stretch.

Mark Johnston blamed the surface for the poor showing of Two Punch Lil, winner of his first stakes in her last start.

"She's better than this. She didn't run her race," said Johnston. "The cushion is kind of powdery and she's a long-striding filly who just couldn't get running in this."

The race continued the mystery of Calipha, who was unbeaten in 1994, taking the Black-Eyed Susan along the way.

She broke on top from the outside and was still in contention after three furlongs, then steadily fell back.

"My horse put away Calipha," said trainer Ned Allard of Pleasant Dilemma. "I felt pretty good at the eighth pole, but then they started coming at her and that was it."

NOTES: Aware of the pending snowstorm that could halt training for several days, horsemen flocked to the track yesterday. Ninety-nine horses recorded workouts at Laurel over a fast track, making for a crowded scene.

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