Tap to Music gives lesson to sprinters in Fritchie

Distance runner wins by half-length at Laurel

February 20, 2000|By Pete Bielski | Pete Bielski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap for fillies and mares at Laurel is a sprint, but New Yorker Joe Orseno was willing to take a chance that his distance-favoring mare, Tap to Music, would be able to shorten up to 7 furlongs.

His classy mare out-sprinted the sprinters, defeating 12 foes yesterday, including Her She Kisses by a half-length, to take the winner's share of $120,000. The daughter of Pleasant Tap ran the race in 1 minute, 24.75 seconds and has lifetime earnings of $795,000.

"To become a millionaire, even in this day and age, is still an accomplishment," said assistant trainer Russell Derderian, who saddled the winner for Orseno and Stronach Stables. "Stronach has had a couple of millionaires, but never a millionairess."

With one win in seven starts last year, and having done most of her work in distance races, Tap to Music was third choice in the Fritchie.

The role of favorite went to Speeding Star, the Argentina-bred stakes winner who won impressively at Gulfstream Park last month for trainer John Kimmel. But Speeding Star was pinched back at the start and was never a factor. She finished 11th.

Her She Kisses, at 7-2, was a factor. With Mike Luzzi aboard, she stayed right behind long-shot leader Smart Lady's Friend through the turn and took a brief lead at the head of the stretch. But when they straightened for home, jockey Joe Bravo had Tap to Music rolling from the back of the pack to the front with a wide, sweeping move.

"Class just prevailed," said Bravo. "She's been running against some of the best fillies in the country."

It was the first East Coast effort for Her She Kisses, who made her debut for New York-based trainer P.G. Johnson. She was formally trained by D. Wayne Lukas and based in California, logging five wins in eight lifetime starts.

"She can probably do better going a little bit shorter," Luzzi said. "We were asking a lot of her today, but she did fine."

Third place went to Di's Time, another New York-based mare.

Maryland horses had a tough day. Anthony Dutrow's Red's Lady had the best finish -- fifth. Mario Pino had defending champion Passeggiata making a rally in the stretch for trainer Ferris Allen, moving from last to fourth, but she faded in the last sixteenth of a mile and finished sixth at 17-to-1.

Advance Derby wagering

Bettors at Laurel can make advance wagers on the 126th Kentucky Derby through next Sunday. Maryland tracks are accepting bets on the May 6 race and are part of a national pool. Through yesterday, the odds of the horses were as follows:

%% Horse Odds

Anees 14-1

Another City Slew 80-1

Captain Steve 17-1

Chief Seattle 25-1

Deputy Warlock 30-1

Dixie Union 50-1

Elite Mercedes 35-1

Exchange Rate 45-1

Fusaichi Pegasus 50-1

Greenwood Lake 10-1

Hal's Hope 70-1

High Yield 23-1

Mighty 45-1

More Than Ready 30-1

Mull of Kintyre 40-1

Polish Miner 30-1

Promontory Gold 80-1

Red Bullet 14-1

Scottish Halo 45-1

Surfside (filly) 16-1

The Deputy 23-1

Tribunal 50-1

War Chant 16-1

All other 3-year-olds 3-2

Total mutuel pool: $187,929

%% Note: If a horse does not start in the Derby, refunds are not made. For more information, access http: //www.tvgnetwork.com/churchill.asp

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