'Golden Circle' is twice as nice in Fritchie win Mare's rare second surge lifts her in Laurel feature

February 16, 1997|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

For a $200,000 race, it was the quietest winner's circle in memory. The winning trainer and owners hadn't even seen the race; they had listened to the call by telephone.

So the victorious mare, Miss Golden Circle, gained all the attention yesterday after her sparkling performance in the Barbara Fritchie Handicap, a Grade II seven-furlong sprint at Laurel Park. And she made the most of it, kicking back her rear feet and shaking her sweaty head.

She deserved the spotlight. Under a wise ride by jockey Richard Migliore, who flew in from New York, Miss Golden Circle overcame a difficult post position, avoided traffic and then surged ahead in the stretch for a length victory over last year's Fritchie winner, Lottsa Talc.

"That's her," said John Kimmel, the trainer of Miss Golden Circle. "She likes to find her own pace."

Kimmel spoke by telephone from his barn at Gulfstream Park, where he had stayed to saddle Montjoy in a race of lesser value, the $150,000 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup. Montjoy finished ninth.

Asked whether he was sorry he hadn't made the trip from Florida, Kimmel said: "Sort of. Everybody likes to be in the winner's circle."

Gulfstream Park doesn't televise Laurel races, so Kimmel hooked up with a friend at Yonkers Raceway in New York. The friend held his telephone up to a TV, and Kimmel listened on his cell phone to the call of Dave Rodman, Laurel's announcer.

What Rodman described translated into the biggest payday in Miss Golden Circle's 25-race career. In winning for the seventh time (she has finished in the top three in all but four races), the 5-year-old chestnut mare earned $120,000 for her owners, who also stayed in Florida.

For those who backed Miss Golden Circle with $2 on the nose, the win was worth $5.20. The exacta with Lottsa Talc, who rallied from eighth, paid $30. The trifecta with 10-1 Whaleneck on the bottom returned $119.60.

The Barbara Fritchie was the first half of Laurel Park's Winter SprintFest. The second half takes place tomorrow with the running of the $200,000 General George Handicap. That Grade II seven-furlong race attracted Appealing Skier, one of the nation's top sprinters.

The Barbara Fritchie attracted nine horses from out of state. Thirteen were entered, but the local favorite, Secret Prospect, was scratched because of a stomach ailment.

If she had started, the race probably would have followed a different script. In nine races at Laurel, the Allen's Prospect filly has won seven and finished second twice. Miss Golden Circle, stabled at Belmont Park, probably would have had to run her down.

As it was, Miss Golden Circle broke sharply from her No. 11 post. That caught Migliore, her regular jockey, by surprise.

Usually, he said, he asks her for one run near the end of the race. But this time, starting on the outside in a field of 12, he saw a chance to clear half the field, he said. He urged her ahead. She settled in fifth, behind Red Hot Iron, Dancin Renee, Special Brush and Nappelon.

Then, around the turn, he urged her a second time. She swung back to the outside, around the leaders and down the stretch with only the finish line left to chase.

"I've never done that before," Migliore said about asking her twice for speed. "That's kind of impressive for her against horses of this caliber."

In an earlier stakes for 3-year-old Maryland-bred fillies, the $60,000 Jameela, the bettors' one-two choice, Weather Vane and Assault John, finished one-two.

A daughter of Willard Scott, Weather Vane led the entire race, repulsing a late charge by Assault John. The winner's trainer, Richard W. Delp, said he was surprised she was favored over Assault John, trained by Jerry Robb.

"I didn't think she could beat the Robb horse, to tell you the truth," Delp said. "But I guess when they get good, they can do things to surprise you."

Pub Date: 2/16/97

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