Cigar Charlie smoking in Md. debut Filly out-duels 'Prints' in Wide Country Stakes

Laurel notebook

March 30, 1998|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Cigar Charlie doesn't like to be whipped, had an unfamiliar jockey and was running on a new track yesterday.

But none of that mattered when the gray filly stalked the pace, then out-dueled Leave No Prints to win the $53,800 Wide Country Stakes, the closing-day feature at Laurel Park.

It was the Maryland debut for Cigar Charlie, who was backed as a 2-to-5 favorite in a field of six 3-year-old females going 1 1/8 miles.

"The trainer [Michael Dickinson] told me this filly really resented the whip in her last race, " said Edgar Prado, who was aboard the horse for the first time. "That's why we didn't carry one, but she really didn't need it."

Cigar Charlie broke alertly, flashed some speed and stayed just off modest fractions set by Leave No Prints, the 9-to-2 second choice.

"At about the three-eighths pole, I had a lot of horse and a big chance to win," Prado said. "She was real easygoing. Then, down the stretch she was looking for someone to run with. She dug back in inside the sixteenth pole when she sensed the others coming to her."

Dickinson had Cigar Charlie in Florida, where she was second in $32,000 allowance company in her previous race Jan. 29.

"The only thing I was worried about is she got a lung infection and was sick for about two weeks," Dickinson said. "I hoped I had given her enough time to get over it."

Dickinson joked that owner Mark Hopkins, who enjoyed his first stakes win, told him that the horse was "one run away from going to D. Wayne Lukas."

Hopkins said he probably will return the filly to the turf, where she ran well at Calder Race Course.

Laurel handle rises

With two more live racing days, the total handle showed a slight increase for the Laurel and Pimlico at Laurel meetings that began Oct. 15.

Over 39 live days and seven simulcast-only cards, the handle was $206,920,268 -- up from $195,914,357 in 1997, when there were 37 live days and 10 simulcast programs.

This occurred despite a drop-off of nearly 23,000 in on-track attendance.

Most of the increase could be attributed to rises in Maryland betting on out-of-state races and out-of-state betting on Maryland races.

The on-track handle showed another drop in betting on live races. From $40,467,811 wagered in 1997, the total Marylanders beton Maryland events fell to $36,309,533.

Et cetera

Prado had an adventurous day, leaping from 1-to-5 Good Lovin' when she stumbled leaving the gate in the seventh race, then getting tossed from John U To Berry during the post parade before the 10th. Despite running off, John U To Berry ran a game second. Prado finished with 191 victories to win another meet riding title. His winning percentage was .240. Mark Johnston (104 wins) and Mario Pino (99) were second and third. Dale Capuano took the training title with 66 victories, a 23 percent success rate. Ham Smith was second with 41 wins.

Pub Date: 3/30/98

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