Wise Dusty digs in on dirt, wins $100,000 Laurel Dash Move from grass just ticket as gelding holds off two

November 05, 1997|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Had the rains not come last weekend, yesterday's Grade III Laurel Dash would not have seen Wise Dusty.

The inclement weather forced the $100,000 race off the grass course and onto the main track, where Wise Dusty is tough.

And form held as the chestnut gelding staved off late bids by Aberfoyle and Star Trace to win the $60,000 top prize by three-quarters of a length.

"If this race had stayed on the turf, we would have scratched," said Wise Dusty's owner, Adrian Merton. "But when they switched it to the main track, we were encouraged. The horse was acting so good this morning, we knew we had a good shot."

Wise Dusty also benefited from early bumping that shuffled back co-favorites Capture the Gold and Appealing Skier. Neither showed much interest in running afterward and finished out of the money.

Scratches reduced the field to six, and the chief challenge came from Aberfoyle, who won the Maryland Million Sprint only two weeks earlier.

Aberfoyle was stalking the front-running Wise Dusty nicely after four furlongs and appeared in perfect position to make a big run.

But some moderate fractions [for him] allowed Wise Dusty to fend off the challenge and win in 1: 11 2/5 for six furlongs.

It was a sweet comeback race for Wise Dusty after he finished a dismal 10th in a $200,000, Grade II event at Belmont Park on Oct. 19.

"He just didn't like the track last time out because it was so deep, even though it was listed as fast," Merton said. "But he loves the Laurel surface."

Oscar Mancilla, Wise Dusty's regular rider, said he just "followed orders" given by trainer Wayne Bailey. "He broke good, I took a nice hold of him and I had plenty of horse left at the end," Mancilla said.

"Usually, he throws a 21 [seconds for the first quarter-mile] in there, so I knew we were coasting today [22 1/5]."

Wise Dusty improved his lifetime bankroll to $434,436.

"It's like this: I have the most underrated horse and jockey in Maryland," Bailey said.

The Maryland Racing Commission will conduct public deliberations today at Laurel Park concerning the simulcast feud between the state's harness and thoroughbred factions.

The owners of the two harness tracks, Rosecroft Raceway and Ocean Downs, want to televise out-of-state thoroughbred racing independently from the Maryland Jockey Club.

It is a position vehemently opposed by Maryland Jockey Club chief executive Joe De Francis, who calls the proposals "very unfair. They want to become a separate entity."

De Francis has gone on record as saying that such an arrangement would bring "chaos" to the thoroughbred game.

"I believe that the commission is also going to decide on Bally's [which owns Ocean Downs] application for an off-track betting parlor in Hagerstown," De Francis said.

The dispute was first fueled by Bally's, which withdrew from the arrangement of "facilities use" under which thoroughbred and harness tracks previously operated. The profits were divided on a percentage basis.

Laurel's week

Post times: 12: 35 p.m. tomorrow through Saturday; 12: 15 p.m. Sunday; 12: 35 p.m. Tuesday

Simulcast: today, Monday

Information: 410-792-7775

Out-of-town simulcasts: For results, scratches, call 410-792-7464

Pub Date: 11/05/97

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