Concerto runs away from foes at Turfway Md.-stabled colt wins Battaglia by 6 lengths

March 09, 1997|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Although the Kentucky Derby is still eight weeks away, the chances of Maryland horses getting there are improving by the week.

Yesterday, Concerto romped by six lengths in the $100,000 1 1/16-mile John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky. In recent weeks, Smoke Glacken and Captain Bodgit turned in Derby-like efforts. And Traitor, the state's other major contender for the Triple Crown races, is nearing his 3-year-old debut in Florida.

But yesterday was Concerto's time to make music. He swooped into the lead on the far turn and promptly ran away from eight pursuers.

Trained by Laurel-based John J. Tammaro III for George Steinbrenner, Concerto paid $4.20 to win in a speedy 1 minute, 42 2/5 seconds. Steinbrenner also owns top Derby prospect Acceptable,

Concerto's one flaw was ducking abruptly to the outside down the homestretch. The Daily Racing Form trackman said he shied from a shadow. But in two previous races the chestnut colt did the same thing -- a potentially dangerous reaction and costly in terms of time and ground lost.

"He's got to be a good horse to overcome that," said his regular rider, Carlos Marquez Jr. "I don't think just any horse could do that: swerve, lose a couple of lengths and come back like he did."

One solution would be to fit the horse with blinkers, coverings around the eyes that restrict side vision.

"But I don't want to do that," Tammaro said. "Somebody is going to come running up to him one of these races, and I don't want them to sneak up on him."

That race may come March 29 in the $600,000 Jim Beam Stakes at Turfway Park. That is Concerto's next assignment.

"So far we've been running him where he can win," Tammaro said. "The Jim Beam will be a pretty good test."

Yesterday, the Kentucky-bred Concerto -- by Chief's Crown out of Undeniably -- defeated a modest field of 3-year-olds. Star of Halo was second and Esteemed Friend third.

Tammaro said he was impressed with Concerto's effort, despite the unnerving swerve.

"I'm glad Carlos hung on," Tammaro said, "because I almost fell over the rail."

10-1 shot takes Politely

Truth And Nobility, a classy filly stabled at Philadelphia Park, roared down the stretch at Laurel Park yesterday and won the $60,000 Politely Stakes, a seven-furlong sprint for Maryland-bred 3-year-old fillies.

By Proud Truth out of Commonsensical, the 10-1 Truth And Nobility overtook the betting favorite Weather Vane in the homestretch and scored by two lengths.

The 6-5 Weather Vane did not bound to the lead as expected. She broke behind the quicker Darlene's Friend, expended her energy taking the lead around the turn and succumbed down the homestretch.

Marty Fallon, 77, former jockey and long-time trainer, conditions Truth And Nobility, now a winner of four races in seven starts.

"I had the best horse in the country at one time, Hillsdale, '59," Fallon said. "That's a few moons ago."

He said Truth And Nobility will return to Laurel in two weeks for the 1 1/8 -mile Wide Country Stakes.

Glitch in payoff

In the sixth race yesterday at Laurel, the winning horse, Fight Overnight, paid $17.60 despite posted odds of 12-1. James P. Mango, Maryland Jockey Club official, explained:

A bettor at Philadelphia Park wagered $2,000 to win on Fight Overnight seconds before the race. But a tote-system failure at Delaware Park delayed for five minutes the final tabulation of bets on the race from across the country -- and therefore the final tabulation of odds.

Mango said nothing improper occurred. Nevertheless, he said, the Maryland Racing Commission will investigate the matter.

Pub Date: 3/09/97

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