'Visitors' rule at Laurel 'Princess,' 'Passion,' Malaka Head win Maryland-bred stakes

December 27, 1997|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Michael Cascio forgot his jacket. And not even the owner of the favorite in a $100,000 race can walk into Laurel Park's Turf Club without a jacket.

So the track lent Cascio a jacket, a red one, and he wore it yesterday into the winner's circle after his 2-year-old filly Maragold Princess romped in the Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship.

"I like this jacket," Cascio said, beaming. "I'd like to buy it."

Cascio was one of three owners -- all from out of state -- who pocketed win checks after yesterday's three stakes at Laurel Park for, ironically, Maryland-breds.

Cascio lives in Bermuda. He and his wife, Anna, flew to Maryland yesterday morning for the race. But Cascio, 42, an actuary for insurance companies, failed to pack a jacket.

Meanwhile, Malaka Head, owned by a family from New York, captured the $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Championship. And Purple Passion, owned by New Englanders, won the $60,000 Challedon Stakes, a seven-furlong sprint, for his fifth victory in a row and ninth in 11 career starts.

"He's the best thing to come around Maryland in a while -- sprint-wise," said Donald H. Barr, who just last month took over training of the colt. "I don't think Smoke Glacken could beat this horse."

Smoke Glacken, also a Maryland-bred, was perhaps the year's best sprinter. After winning the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel, he suffered an injury and was retired.

The 3-5 favorite, Purple Passion blistered a quarter mile in 22 3/5 seconds and a half mile in 45 4/5 seconds -- and still had the stamina to hold off a late charge by the highly regarded Clash by Night. Purple Passion's final time over the lightning-fast track was 1 minute, 22 4/5 seconds.

The 3-year-old son of Northern Raja and Purple Glory raced primarily in New England until last month. His owners sent him to Barr for Maryland's richer races.

Now that Purple Passion is 3-for-3 for Barr, he plans on running him Feb. 16 in the $250,000 seven-furlong General George Handicap at Laurel, and then in top sprint races around the country.

Although Barr knew what he had with a horse about to turn 4, the trainers of 2-year-olds in the juvenile championships did not. Most of the entrants had never raced 1 1/8 miles.

Two performed like old pros: Maragold Princess, a daughter of Smarten, and Malaka Head, a son of Allen's Prospect. They won by identical margins, 4 1/2 lengths and in identical times, 1: 52 2/5. Both are stabled at Belmont Park -- Maragold Princess with Todd Pletcher and Malaka Head with Robert P. Klesaris.

Asked whether winning a race for Maryland-breds means much to out-of-state connections, Pletcher said: "Anytime you win a $100,000 race, it's special."

Pletcher said Maragold Princess was able to turn the tables on Cosmo Topper, who beat her a month ago, because of post position and weight. In the Heavenly Cause Stakes on Nov. 30 at Laurel, Cosmo Topper carried 113 pounds and broke from the inside. Maragold Princess, as winner of the Maryland Million Lassies on Oct. 18, carried 119 and broke from the outside.

Yesterday, every horse carried 119 pounds, Maragold Princess broke from post 3, and Cosmo Topper from post 7. Cosmo Topper shadowed Maragold Princess around the track until the stretch, when the winner shot free. Then, a couple of strides before the wire, the 62-1 Gabe's Girl overcame Cosmo Topper for second.

Edgar Prado rode the winner -- and won two other races as well -- increasing his year's total to 531. With three racing days left, Prado is 15 wins behind Chris McCarron, whose 546 is the second-most ever by a North American jockey in one year.

In the Maryland Juvenile Championship, the New York-based Diane Nelson piloted the 6-1 Malaka Head to an easy score over 9-5 Carnivorous Habit and even-money Full Brush. Tom Theodore, a member of the Greek family that owns Malaka Head, said the name in Greece means "idiot."

Although the young colt sometimes acts like a "malaka head" in the paddock or loading into the gate, Theodore said, he acted yesterday like the cool winner of 60 grand.

Pub Date: 12/27/97

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