The $50,000 Basil Hall Stakes was intended to be Just Call Me Carl's first test on the turf track yesterday at Pimlico Race Course.
Instead, it turned into his maiden effort in the mud, and the Strawberry Road horse passed the examination almost effortlessly.
The horse who runs for charity was anything but charitable to three rivals, racing them into submission and proceeding to a 2 1/2 -length victory over Rudirudy on a track rated "good."
Just Call Me Carl increased his lifetime earnings to $191,671 with his third stakes triumph. Owner Steven T. Newby donates all of his winners to Project Excellence, a fund established by newspaper columnist Carl Rowan to provide scholarships to underprivileged children.
Originally a five-furlong race on the grass, the feature -like two other events on the program-was shifted to the main track when a steady drizzle invaded the area shortly after post time.
Just Call Me Carl, one of the area's leading sprinters, was making only his second start of the year. In the first, he scored a nose win over Minister of Decorum in the Ben Cohen Stakes on April 29 at Pimlico.
Yesterday, jockey Travis Dunkelberger got him out of the gate alertly and he stalked Rudirudy and Smart Sunny from the outside for two furlongs. Smart Sunny backed up shortly thereafter, and Just Call Me Carl easily measured Rudirudy by the eighth pole and pulled away to win in 573/5 seconds.
"Eventually, I really do want to try this horse on the grass," said trainer Dale Capuano of the 5-year-old out of Great Escape. "But at the same time, it's an added luxury knowing when you enter that if the weather does turn bad, your horse will have no trouble competing over a wet surface.
"This horse looked like he was just breezing five furlongs today. He was in hand the whole race and finished well in hand."
Dunkelberger credited Capuano's work and said "everybody was really looking forward to see how he'd perform on the turf, but the rains came, so we were content being 2-to-5 in a four-horse field."
He will probably run again in the Chesapeake Stakes June 10 at Pimlico.
`Priceless' in England
Priceless Room, trained locally by Bruce Fenwick, shoots for a $100,000 bonus today when he runs in the Marlborough Cup steeplechase race in England.
The 10-year-old won the first half of the bonus double when he upset perennial champion Saluter in the Virginia Gold Cup on Kentucky Derby day.
A relative newcomer to timber racing, Priceless Room, 10, is owned by Big Wood Stable.
Racing continues today as usual with a 1:05 p.m. post time, and an 11-race program is carded for tomorrow, Memorial Day. The $75,000 Honor Guard Stakes is the holiday feature.