Colstar rolls to win in Searching Stakes

Fout hoping mare can duplicate last year's run to Breeders' Cup start

Horse Racing

April 29, 2001|By Pete Bielski | Pete Bielski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In 40 years in the racing business, Paul Fout experienced his most thrilling moment last year. Yesterday, he took the first step toward a repeat.

Trainer Fout's powerful mare, Colstar, who earned a starting spot in last fall's Breeders' Cup, made her seasonal debut yesterday in the $75,000 Searching Stakes at Pimlico. She toyed with 10 well-tested foes, winning the mile race in 1:34 2/5, less than a second off the 10-year-old track record.

An effortless winning move by Colstar relieved the nerves of Fout, 70, and owner Virginia Friedman, who had kept their talented homebred daughter of Opening Verse on the bench since her seventh-place finish on Breeders' Cup Day in November.

"It was a great relief to see her run like this because you never know what can happen," said Fout, a former Hall of Fame show jumper in Virginia. "I really think she's stronger than she was last year, and I think that's made her quicker."

The Searching Stakes seemed a bit short for the usually late-running Colstar, who rarely races shorter than 1 1/8 miles. But veteran jockey Jean-Luc Samyn, in from New York for his third straight ride on Colstar, kept the 5-year-old in striking distance from the start.

She broke fourth and joined a three-horse pack that chased leader Maria's Tiara through a quick opening half-mile (46 seconds). On the turn for home, Samyn mildly urged Colstar, who easily pulled even, then clear of Maria's Tiara. A wild, late rally by Queue, which took jockey Omar Klinger from the outside of the stretch to the rail, added a touch of closing drama.

But Colstar's margin of three-quarters of a length was comfortable and never really threatened. It was four lengths back to Maria's Tiara, who held on for third. Colstar paid $3.40 as a heavy favorite.

Fout said he intends to follow a similar route for Colstar this year, including the $100,000 Gallorette on May 18, the day before the Preakness. The Gallorette was the first of three stakes wins for Colstar last year, who made $670,320 of his $822,900 in lifetime earnings at age 4.

The Searching and the Gallorette are the first two races in the Mid-Atlantic Match Series for filly and mares on the turf. There are six races in the series.

"Obviously, it's way too early to talk about the Breeders' Cup, but I think we'll follow about the same schedule that we did last year," Fout said.

There are five different divisions in the Mid-Atlantic Match Series, including a turf division for males that starts today at Pimlico with the $75,000 Henry S. Clark Stakes.

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