Perkins entry is class of George field

February 19, 1996|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Out-of-towners 1, Locals 0.

That is the score after the first half of Laurel Park's SprintFest. Marylanders can even the score today, but it won't be easy.

Saturday, Lottsa Talc, a New York mare, won the Barbara Fritchie Handicap, the first half of the SprintFest.

Today in the Grade II, $200,000 General George Handicap, the showpiece of the winter meeting, a stable coupling trained by Ben Perkins figures to be odds-on favorite to complete the shutout.

Perkins' New Farm has a powerful entry of Meadow Monster and Jealous Crusader in from Florida. With the anticipated defections of two horses who ran in the Sporting Plate Handicap at Aqueduct on Saturday, track handicapper Clem Florio would "probably drop the entry to about 6-5 [odds]."

Additionally, Kent Desormeaux is scheduled in from California to ride third-choice Finder's Fortune and second-pick Splendid Sprinter (from New York) never has been out of the money in eight starts and is doing his best running lately. He also drew a light impost (109 pounds).

The top local hope appears to be the hard-hitting Mary's Buckaroo, who bounced back from a brief slump to finish second in the six-furlong Hoover Stakes two weeks ago, beaten by a nose by Foxie G.

"The reason we're running him in the big race is that seven [furlongs] seems to be his best distance," said trainer Mary Joanne Hughes. "That is a super entry, but we're going to try them. Our horse is doing well."

Mary's Buckaroo has two recent outings at the distance, winning the Chase Me at Laurel Oct. 3 and finishing a solid third to Meadow Lad and Goldminer's Dream in the Challedon Nov. 5.

"Our horse kind of has to run his race. You can't put him any closer than he wants to be [early]," said Hughes.

The other Maryland entries are Military Look, Cat Be Nimble and Frugal Doc, all proven locally.

"Anyway you look at it, this is a tough race," said Charlie Hadry, trainer of Military Look. "At seven-eighths, I figure we have a good shot.

"The problem is that we are always losing so much ground early, but he closed well in his last race [finishing fourth in the Hoover] so the added distance should help."

Perkins has enjoyed solid success shipping into Maryland races at this meet. In one span, 10 of 12 New Farm horses scored victories.

Meadow Monster, who is topweighted at 120 pounds, has been thriving at Gulfstream Park with two stakes victories, the last by 5 1/2 lengths at the George distance.

Jealous Crusader, the other half of the entry, is an improving sort whose only finish off the board was a sixth in the Grade I Haskell Invitational won by Serena's Song.

Splendid Sprinter was scratched from the Sporting Plate to take a try at this race and is on a two-race winning streak.

No rider has been named on Cat Be Nimble, who worked three furlongs in 37 flat Saturday in preparation for this test. He could be the sleeper.

Meadow Monster worked the same day in 37 3/5, getting accustomed to the track.

Richie The Coach wins

Favored Richie The Coach broke a track record by going wire-to-wire while barely holding off Atomistic in the $32,200 St. Brendan Stakes yesterday.

The winning margin was a nose over the rarely run distance of 1 5/16 miles. Richie The Coach's time of 2:10 bettered by 2 2/5 seconds the previous mark set earlier this year by A Consoling Hope.

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