Surface immaterial to Reach the Top Filly hits dirt running, captures Selima Stakes

Laurel notebook

November 04, 1996|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

For a horse who has shown a liking for racing on the grass, Reach the Top is taking to dirt surfaces with gusto.

The big filly showed yesterday that she is versatile, coming from just off the pace to out-duel a game Assault John to win the Grade III, $100,000 Selima Stakes at Laurel Park.

"She likes dirt, grass, slop -- you can run her anywhere," said trainer Mary Eppler after Reach the Top prevailed by 1 1/4 lengths over the 1 1/8 -mile route. "She's big, but she does everything right. When she came up from Florida, she was a racehorse."

From the Samuel Rogers stable near Ocala, Reach the Top is the connection's best since her sister, Grab the Green, a horse who had solid success, especially on grass.

"But Grab the Green wasn't quite as tractable as this filly," said Rogers, who has eight in training, all with Eppler. "This one is remarkable. She goes well on turf, and we knew she had worked well on dirt."

A prohibitive favorite yesterday, Reach the Top bided her time behind pacesetters Ms. Calabash (who faded to finish seventh) and Assault John.

"We were about a length behind the leaders and I was just cruising along," said jockey Edgar Prado, who scored his fourth victory on the card. "At the 5/16ths pole, she was picking herself up."

Reach the Top gained the lead in the deep stretch and edged away from 13-1 shot Assault John, who was running on Lasix for the first time.

Fancy Freda, a speedster who had never been around two turns, failed to rally down the lane and finished third.

Eppler said she is considering a race at Aqueduct for Reach the Top at the end of this month, then will take her and six or seven other runners to Florida for the winter.

Now 2-for-4, with a win on both surfaces, Reach the Top figures to be a substantial winner, barring injury.

"This filly is kinder than Grab the Green -- not temperamental or nervous at all," said Eppler. "She's very good to work with."

Stormy Blues set

Laurel will feature the Stormy Blues Stakes, a $30,000-added race for 3-year-old fillies, tomorrow.

The top two finishers in the Maryland Million Oaks on Oct. 12, The Ruler's Sister and Hay Let's Dance, are expected to be the leading choices in the betting.

The Ruler's Sister is listed at 5-2 in the overnight line by track oddsmaker Clem Florio, with Hay Let's Dance at 3-1.


Trainer John A. Dinatale won his first race yesterday, scoring with favored Lochnessa in the third. Dinatale is the son of longtime conditioner John F. Dinatale. Laissez Faire ran a quick 36 3/5 during a three-furlong workout yesterday morning but didn't fare as well in the afternoon, finishing last in the 1-1/16th mile second race. Rosecroft Raceway is conducting live racing each Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The track is open for simulcast action on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Pub Date: 11/04/96

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