ELMONT, N.Y. - Even as Marylanders lament the loss of stakes races in their state, two Maryland horses vanned to New York and swept the stakes yesterday at Belmont Park.
Stabled at Tapeta Farm in Cecil County, Fleet Renee reaffirmed her status as one of the country's leading 3-year-old fillies with a near-record performance in the Grade I, $250,000 Mother Goose Stakes. Her time of 1 minute, 47.19 seconds for 1 1/8 miles was the second fastest in 45 runnings of the race. Michael Dickinson trains the daughter of Seattle Slew at his farm near North East.
Stabled at Laurel Park, Buster's Daydream established himself as the top 2-year-old in the East with a resounding win in the Grade III, $100,000 Tremont Stakes. Tim Tullock Jr., a newcomer to Maryland racing, trains the son of Housebuster.
"We were just a little bit hopeful, but not confident," Dickinson said of his filly's chances in the prestigious Mother Goose. "I lost my confidence after the Oaks."
Fleet Renee finished fourth as the favorite in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs one month after winning the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland. Both are Grade I stakes. Some handicappers had predicted that Fleet Renee would "bounce" in the Oaks, meaning she would regress after a top effort.
"I respect the handicappers; they're full-time professionals," Dickinson said. "But I saw no reason she would bounce. It's a sock to your ego when someone sitting in an office printing out figures knows better than you how your horse will run."
Fleet Renee did not bounce in the Mother Goose, the second leg of New York's Triple Tiara for fillies. Breaking from post 8, she settled in third, wide and in the clear. Her jockey, John Velazquez, asked her for run entering the far turn, and the easy-running filly accelerated into the lead and drew away down the stretch.
She cruised under the wire 5 1/2 lengths ahead of Real Cozzy. Exogenous claimed third. Forest Secrets, who won the Acorn, the first leg of the Triple Tiara, finished fourth.
As the 2-1 favorite, Fleet Renee paid $6.10 to win. The exacta returned $21.60, the trifecta $144. Only Lakeway (1:46 2/5 seconds in 1994) ran a faster Mother Goose.
In the 5 1/2 -furlong Tremont, Buster's Daydream, also under Velazquez, broke second behind Draw Play and claimed the lead at the head of the stretch. Buster, as Tullock calls him, won by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:3.96 seconds. Draw Play held on for second. Day Trader finished third.
As the 3-2 favorite, Buster's Daydream paid $5 to win. The exacta paid $12.80. There was no trifecta.
For Tullock, 37, the Tremont was his biggest victory - ranking just behind the victory by Buster's Daydream three weeks ago in the Flash Stakes at Belmont.
"Right now, he's the nicest 2-year-old in the East," said Tullock.
Buster's Daydream may next contest the 2-year-old stakes at Saratoga, his trainer said. As for Fleet Renee, Dickinson said, her next assignment will be the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga.