Crab Grass returns from layoff with Skipat win

Mare holds off late test for 1 1/4-length triumph

May 10, 1999|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The question about Crab Grass in yesterday's $75,000 Skipat Stakes was a five-month layoff.

But the mare returned running to steal away from six rivals for a 1 1/4-length victory in the first MATCH race of the year for older female sprinters.

In a race named for a horse owned by popular local restaurateur Constantine "Buzz" Beler, Crab Grass laid just off the pace, pulled away from a tiring Mz. Ann and held off a late challenge by Passeggiata to score her seventh lifetime win and first since last August at Saratoga.

"This has been a great day for our stable," said trainer Barclay Tagg. "Not only did Crab Grass win, but Tampico won the Beaugay at Aqueduct [a Grade III, $100,000 stakes]. A lot of this credit goes to Hamilton Smith. He had her on his farm in South Carolina for the winter. She came back to me five weeks ago in top shape."

Passeggiata rebounded from a dull race in Delaware to claim second from closer Tookin Down while the 4-to-5 favorite, Liable, faded to fourth. The time for six furlongs was a leisurely 1 minute, 12 2/5 seconds.

Tagg said he used Rick Wilson to exercise Crab Grass and decided to put him aboard in the stake.

"I worked her a slow five-eighths and a fast five-eighths [1: 00 3/5]," said Rick Wilson. "And Mr. Tagg put lots of gallops in this horse. When I wanted her to take off, she flew. She kind of does everything her way."

Crab Grass now has lifetime earnings of more than $225,000.

Tampico won the 1 1/16-mile Aqueduct race in 1: 44.32.

U R Unforgetable was second in the race for 3-year-olds and up, followed by Shashobegon, a Maryland-bred daughter of Broad Brush and Kimonina owned and trained by Richard W. Small.

Tampico paid $8.10, $3.10 and $2.80. U R Unforgetable returned $2.60 and $2.40, and Shashobegon was worth $3.60.

Wettach dies

Owner Michael F. Wettach, who raced horses in Maryland for nearly two decades, died yesterday morning at his farm in Monkton.

Joe Tuminelli, who trained for Wettach for 15 years, said: "First, he was a wonderful person who always let you do whatever you wanted with the horse. He's one of the best owners I've ever had."

Wettach also rode steeplechase horses during his youth.

Et cetera

Trainer Linda Albert was given a surprise 40th birthday party yesterday in the winner's circle after the fourth race. Members of her family flew in from Florida for the occasion. The fourth finisher in last year's Preakness, Hot Wells, returned from a 10-month layoff yesterday and tried the turf for the first time. He finished off the board in a race won easily by European import, Grapeshot, who was racing counterclockwise for the first time.

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