`Music' surges on last turn at Laurel

Victory is by 10 1/2 lengths

track change, 6 scratches reduce feature field to 4

Horse Racing

July 28, 2002|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

While six other trainers scurried to scratch their horses when yesterday's Laurel Park feature was moved to the main track, John Servis never wavered.

Martha's Music was going to run - grass or dirt - and run she did, dominating the $150,000 Martha Washington Breeders' Cup by 10 1/2 lengths by making a dramatic swoosh to the lead on the final turn and drawing away from three rivals.

"I put her in with the intention of running her either way and when it came off the grass, it was even better," said Servis. "She had run a very good race over the grass at Monmouth, but I also knew her capabilities on dirt."

The pace was snail-like, with Restraining Order covering a quarter-mile in 25 seconds, the half in 50 seconds and six furlongs in 1:14 3/5. Martha's Music was last behind a crawling threesome in front.

But, as the stretch loomed, jockey Harry Vega asked the daughter of Sultry Song to run and she roared past the competition and went on to win as she pleased.

"The pace was very slow, but I still had a ton of horse," said Vega, who also rides Xtra Heat. "She just dragged me by the leaders. John told me, `Just don't fall off.' It all worked out."

Laurel honored Vega in the winner's circle for his 2,500 career victories, accomplished May 11 at Delaware Park. Martha's Music was his 26th since then.

The scratches included overnight favorite Ntombi after rains in the metro area forced the race off the turf.

"I was really concerned when [Martha's Music] stumbled in the beginning and about that slow pace," said Servis. "But she gathered herself up and really shocked me with that powerful move. I didn't think she could gather up the ground that quick with such a slow pace."

Martha's Music is 3-for-9 lifetime. Her last victory May 7 at Delaware Park "took a lot out of her," according to the trainer. "It took a while to get her back to that form."

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