Absolutely Queenie can absolutely run on turf at Laurel Park, no matter what the experts say.
The 5-year-old chestnut mare defied long odds for a second straight year yesterday to win the All Brandy Stakes feature over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Laurel, leading wire-to-wire for a two-length victory over Proud Run after going off as a 19-1 choice.
Absolutely Queenie paid $40.00 yesterday, following last year's $75 payoff when she also led the All Brandy Stakes all the way as a 35-1 choice.
So just why did the experts snub the defending champion yesterday?
"We've had a lot of bad luck with her," said trainer Bessie Lovelace Gruwell. "She was last in a six-furlong race in the wet [May 11 at Delaware Park]. She came out of the Delaware stake race sick [May 24] and then the Pimlico race [June 13] was taken off the turf after a rain delay. But we knew the whole time we were coming back here."
Gruwell said she was training up to the All Brandy Stakes "but this field came up tougher than last year."
"Even so, the little mare shipped well here from Delaware and we pretty much knew that she could stay happy on the lead," Gruwell said. "I told the jockey [Omar Klinger] that if he could get the early lead, to go for it. It was his first ride on her but he seemed to have no trouble."
Klinger said, "I was surprised no one got close to us. I didn't think she would have as much left in the stretch as she did."
Terry Dale Lovelace owns Absolutely Queenie and is Gruwell's uncle.
"We're real proud of our niece and the mare," Lovelace said. "Queenie has been real sick but she is obviously back to herself."
Because of Absolutely Queenie's proven turf ability, Gruwell said she is considering races at the coming Colonial Downs meet in Virginia.
The All Brandy favorite yesterday, Termly, finished eighth with Mario Verge aboard.
"She broke well, I got in good position going into the first turn and I asked her to move into contention at the five-eighths pole," Verge said. "But she just would not pick up the bit and simply did not try."
NOTES: Thomas Perez suffered sprained ligaments in his neck in the second race at Laurel Park when he fell off I'm Down while riding in tight traffic on the backstretch. Perez was examined by Dr. Jerome Coller and sent to Laurel Regional Hospital for X-rays. "There are no neurological problems," Coller said. "And the X-rays came back negative. It was just sprained ligaments." . Edgar Prado rode three winners in the first five races yesterday and was on pace to break the track record of seven winners in a day, set by Chuck Baltazar on Dec. 15, 1969. But Prado cooled off and didn't win another race, even though he had six mounts in the last six races.
Pub Date: 7/26/98