'Brilliance' on the money in stakes upset

Laurel notebook

March 11, 1996|By Pete Bielski | Pete Bielski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

King T. Leatherbury's illness cost Nick Bassford about $500. But Leatherbury's instincts provided Bassford with about $36,000.

So, on balance, Bassford wasn't complaining.

Leatherbury is the trainer of the 4-year-old filly Julie's Brilliance, who prevailed in yesterday's $60,000 Conniver Stakes at Laurel Park. Julie's Brilliance stuck her nose in front of Miss Slewpy, pulling an upset and producing a winning mutuel payoff of $26.20.

4 The winner's long-shot status was well founded.

Julie's Brilliance, with three lifetime victories, was facing stakes-winning foes, including Miss Slewpy, who had won eight of 11 lifetime starts, and Up An Eighth, who ran second in the Grade III $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap last month. But Leatherbury and Bassford had a feeling about their home-bred daughter of Marine Brass, who entered with a two-race winning streak, albeit against much softer competition.

"If a horse is running good and has some bottom under them, they deserve a chance in a race like this," said Bassford. "I'd have been happy if she was third. You know, I've been in this business 18 years, and I still consider myself a layman when it comes to deciding where to run a horse."

He didn't bet like a layman when he saw his filly at 12-to-1 odds, but a phone call to Leatherbury cost him a few extra dollars. Leatherbury, the perennial leader on the Maryland circuit, was ill and missed yesterday's card. He asked Bassford to bet $50 to win on the horse, which Bassford did, lessening his own betting investment.

"It cost me, but what could I say?" Bassford said with a big grin. Julie's Brilliance received a brilliant ride from Mark Johnston to win.

It appeared that Miss Slewpy had her fourth stakes victory locked up when she pulled away from pace-setting Two Punch Lil with an eighth of a mile remaining in the seven-furlong sprint. But Johnston, finding room along the rail after momentarily getting blocked, rallied strongly and inched past a surprised Larry Reynolds and Miss Slewpy.

She had a winning time of 1 minute, 23 3/5 seconds. Miss Slewpy continued her excellent form with eight wins and four seconds in her 12 lifetime starts for trainer Ronald Cartwright. The Conniver, however, looked like victory No. 9.

"This horse has a tendency to get to the front and loaf a bit," Reynolds said. "I try to wait as long as I can before getting to the lead, but I couldn't wait today. I think at the end, she kind of loafed."

Up An Eighth, sent off the even-money choice, could not equal her strong showing in the Fritchie and finished fifth.

Down again

Steve Hamilton was aboard also-ran Broadwater in the fifth race when he saw Inside Job stumble and fall along the rail. Hamilton had the mount on the same horse last month and experienced the same fate, moments after the horse passed the finish line.

Yesterday, the rider was apprentice Keith Dimech, who was running third at the time of the fall but managed to avoid serious injury. As a precaution, he was taken to Laurel Regional Hospital and was later released, sustaining a bruised shoulder.

"Whenever you see a horse go down, you're just thankful you're not in their shoes," Hamilton said. "I can't believe [Inside Job] went down again. I don't believe there's anything wrong with that horse. She's been running OK."

Inside Job is trained by Canadian Rita Schnitzler, who has enjoyed a fine winter at Laurel with 10 wins and more than $180,000 in earnings from her stable of 30. Schnitzler, who calls Woodbine Park in Canada her home track, said Inside Job has raced for the final time at Laurel.

"I guess she just doesn't like the deep track here," she said. "She's been sound. I wouldn't run a sore horse. When she gets tired, it looks like she doesn't get her rear legs around the way she should."

Pub Date: 3/11/96

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