Merengue stays inside to take Twixt triumph 3-year-old filly leads gate-to-wire for 3rd win

LAUREL NOTEBOOK

July 12, 1998|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

On a day when the rail was golden, Merengue scored an upset in the $100,000 Twixt Stakes at Laurel Park.

In her first stakes appearance, the daughter of Broad Brush used her inside post position to her advantage and led all the way to beat favored Maragold Princess by a half-length.

The game plan for Merengue quickly was dispatched after the speed horse, Valay Bullet, failed to seize the early lead.

"The plan was to let Valay Bullet go, with us laying second," winning jockey Carlos Marquez Jr. said. "But when the doors opened and Greg [Hutton] didn't go, I took advantage. Then I slowed it down [48 2/5 seconds for the quarter, 1: 13 2/5 for six furlongs]. When I asked her, she had plenty left."

Maragold Princess, with Edgar Prado up, also finished strongly, but she couldn't get to the Merengue, who won for the third time in four starts.

Trainer Donald Barr said he "took a chance" entering Merengue in the 1 1/16-mile event for Maryland bred 3-year-old fillies. "But after her last race, I thought she'd run good."

Owner Milton Higgins III was in Hawaii yesterday, but learned of the result by phone.

"We seem to do better when he's not here," Barr said.

Colonial trims fall meet

Colonial Downs management and Virginia's thoroughbred horsemen have agreed to a 25-day fall meeting that would lop off all but one day of head-to-head competition with Timonium.

The change is subject to approval by the Virginia Racing Commission, which meets Wednesday.

The new schedule -- down from 30 days -- would have Colonial opening on Labor Day, the final day of the annual state fairgrounds meet at Timonium.

Track chairman Jeffrey Jacobs proposed reducing daily race cards to seven and retaining the 30 days at the financially strapped facility in New Kent County, Va.

But horsemen balked, claiming that running fewer days would reduce the track's operating costs and keep purses at the same $150,000 daily level as last year.

Dash field clearer

The field for the $300,000 De Francis Memorial Dash Saturday is shaping up without Richter Scale and Wild Rush, but could include as many as 11.

Stakes coordinator David Rollinson believes Affirmed Success could be a major factor "because he'll get in light."

The second-richest sprint in the country behind the $1 million Breeders' Cup will also attract top jockeys, such as Pat Day (Trafalgar) and Julie Krone (Tale of the Cat).

Miscellaneous

The state's breeders and horsemen will hold their annual crab feast July 27 starting at 6: 30 p.m. at the exhibition hall in Timonium. For further information, call 410-252-2100.

Pub Date: 7/12/98

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