'Queen of Laurel' romps again Secret Prospect rallies in Distaff for 9th win in 11 stakes at track

October 19, 1997|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

TC If ever there was a horse for the course, it is Secret Prospect.

The 4-year-old daughter of Allen's Prospect won the $100,000 Maryland Million Distaff Handicap yesterday at Laurel Park. It was her ninth victory in 11 stakes starts at the track. In the other two she finished second.

Compare that to her overall record of 13 wins in 26 starts.

"We call her the queen of Laurel," said Faith Hahn, whose husband Bob owns the filly.

Ridden by Mark Johnston, Secret Prospect benefited from a speed duel between Weather Vane and Creamy Dreamy. As they tired, she ran by them easily, winning what appeared to be the most competitive race of the day by two lengths.

Trainer John J. Tammaro III said he gave Secret Prospect the summer off so she'd be fresh for the fall races at Laurel.

"She's had some hard luck in out-of-town races," said Tammaro, based at Monmouth Park in the summer and Laurel Park the rest of the year. "But I'll tell you one thing, this track doesn't hurt her."

* Distaff Starter Handicap: The 10-race program couldn't have started more dramatically when three horses stormed under the wire in the $25,000, 1 1/8 -mile event in a thrilling finish reminiscent of this year's Preakness.

Holdontothemoment held onto the lead as Cammie's Star and Baederbe charged on the inside. Trainer A. Ferris Allen III, who ran away with the trainers championship at the recently concluded Colonial Downs meet, had claimed the winner, a 3-year-old daughter of John Alden, two races ago for $11,500.

Carlos H. Marquez Jr. gained the mount on Holdontothemoment, now 5-2-2 in 19 starts, about three hours before the race.

"She was dragging me to the front," Marquez said. "She gave me a good run and brought me home."

* Lassie: Out-of-state connections ran one-two in the $100,000 race, a seven-furlong sprint for 2-year-old fillies.

The winner, Maragold Princess, is trained by Todd Pletcher at Belmont Park and owned by Michael Cascio, who lives in Bermuda. Expensive Issue, the odds-on favorite who finished second, is trained by Linda Knee at Philadelphia Park.

For Pletcher, Maragold Princess, a daughter of Smarten, is his second Maryland Million starter. His Majestic Number finished seventh in last year's Distaff Handicap.

"I saw that other horse [Expensive Issue] coming, and my filly heard her coming," said Edgar Prado, who rode the winner. "When I asked her to come, she responded."

* Nursery: After a slight delay because the No. 9 horse, Oenach, sat down in the starting gate, Prado earned his second victory aboard Carnivorous Habit in the $100,000, seven-furlong sprint for 2-year-olds.

Hamilton A. Smith, the colt's Laurel-based trainer, said Carnivorous Habit, a son of Carnivalay, almost lost his left eye after a race in July at Delaware Park. Dirt caused an infection that required several weeks' treatment at the New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania.

"We had been pointing for this race all along," Smith said. "The owner [Randy Cohen of Hickory Plains Farm] breeds horses so they can run in the Maryland Million."

Cohen was ecstatic.

"This is our first Maryland Million victory," he said. "To win one of these is fantastic."

* Oaks: Delaware-based trainer Richard J. Hendriks won the first Maryland Million steeplechase race -- as the jockey. Yesterday, his Proud Run won the $100,000 Oaks, edging Buckles and Kinks by a nose.

A 3-year-old daughter of Proud Truth, Proud Run was the day's only favorite to win. Trained by Grover G. Delp, Buckles and Kinks nearly scored the upset at 27-1.

"We didn't really know what he had at first," Hendriks said of Proud Run. "She just keeps getting better and better and better."

The trainer's mother-in-law and the filly's breeder, Katharine W. Merryman, who lives near Sparks, was nearly beyond words. She managed, finally, to say: "It's a great thrill."

* Ladies: Carnivalay, a stallion who stands at Country Life Farm near Bel Air, recorded his second success of the day when his 5-year-old son, Only Ali, won the $100,000 race. It was also the second win for jockey Marquez.

Bob Manfuso accepted the owner's trophy on behalf of his sister-in-law. He said Only Ali and another horse trained by Tiffany and Barclay Tagg spent time last year recovering from hind leg fractures at Chanceland Farm, owned by Manfuso and Katy Voss. The Taggs successfully returned both to the races.

"That's certainly a credit to Barclay Tagg," Manfuso said.

Tiffany saddled Only Ali because her father was at Belmont Park. Tiffany's name appeared on the program in parentheses.

"I've spent my whole life in parentheses," she said, smiling.

* Sprint Handicap: Trainer John J. Lenzini Sr.'s legs were shaking after Aberfoyle, a son of Perfecting, rallied from seventh to win the $100,000 event.

"I've been training horses for 55 years," said the 76-year-old Lenzini in the winner's circle. "And still my legs are shaking."

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