Coquettish, Foufa's Warrior win twins

Filly scores by 3 lengths

Benders finish off big year

Horse Racing

January 01, 2003|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Two potential stars of Maryland racing captured the twin $100,000 stakes yesterday on the year's final program at Laurel Park.

Coquettish scored a leisurely, three-length victory in the Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship, completing the 1 1/8 miles in 1 minute, 51.77 seconds. That was faster than the gelding Foufa's Warrior, who won the Maryland Juvenile Championship over the same distance in 1:52.23.

The victory was the third straight for Coquettish, a Maryland-bred daughter of Not For Love and Chemise. She carried her jockey, Ramon Dominguez, to his fourth win of the afternoon.

The gray Coquettish tracked the leaders until the final turn, where she surged through on the rail and ensured victory at 4-5 odds. It was the filly's first race farther than seven furlongs.

"This was a huge step up," said H. Graham Motion, her trainer. "I think she really proved today how classy she is."

In the accompanying stakes for 2-year-old males, Foufa's Warrior rallied from last under Harry Vega to grab a neck victory in a thrilling, three-horse charge to the wire. The triumph capped the most successful year for trainer Larry Murray and owner-breeders Sondra and Howard Bender. This was their 13th stakes win of 2002.

"It's just been phenomenal," Murray said. "The phrase I keep hearing in my head is: `The hits just keep on coming.' I hate to see it end."

Foufa's Warrior is the fifth stakes winner out of the Benders' mare, Foufa. He was born May 11, 2000, four months later than some 2-year-olds.

"He's always acted like a very special horse," Murray said. "With a late foal like this, the sky's the limit on how good he might be."

NOTES: Mario Pino captured the Maryland jockeys' crown in 2002 with 227 victories at Pimlico and Laurel Park. It was the second time in the past four years that Pino has led Maryland riders in wins.

"I try to stay consistent, and if you do that the numbers add up," Pino said. "There are so many good riders in Maryland that to be at the top is a big honor."

Dale Capuano led Maryland trainers with 107 wins. It was the fifth time in the past four years he has claimed the training crown. Michael Gill dominated the owners with 110 victories.

Meanwhile, apprentice jockey Ryan Fogelsonger and trainer Tony Dutrow led their colleagues in win percentage. Fogelsonger won with 22.1 percent of his mounts (188 out of 850), and Dutrow won with 35.4 percent of his starters (46 out of 130). ...

Betting on horse racing in 2002 continued the trend of recent years: Less bet on races at Pimlico and Laurel Park, more bet on simulcast races from out of state.

In-state wagering on Maryland races fell 9.2 percent (from $98.2 million in 2001 to $89 million in 2002), while in-state wagering on out-of-state races increased 0.9 percent (from $423.4 million in 2001 to $427.4 million in 2002). At the same time, out-of-state betting on Maryland races rose 4 percent (from $391.6 million in 2001 to $407.4 million in 2002).

Total wagering in- and out-of-state increased 0.8 percent (from $927.3 million in 2001 to $935 million in 2002). The highlight was the record-setting Preakness, on which betting increased 14 percent (from $62.7 million in 2001 to $71.5 million in 2002).

According to the figures released by the Maryland Jockey Club, in-state wagering on harness races at Rosecroft Raceway decreased 21.4 percent (from $14.1 million in 2001 to $11.1 million in 2002).

Lou Raffetto Jr., chief operating officer of the MJC, said the decrease in betting on live races reflects a national trend. He said he is pleased with the continued increase in wagering on Maryland races by out-of-state bettors.

"Obviously, the product is desirable," Raffetto said. "One of the reasons is the size of our fields."

Field size has grown at Pimlico and Laurel Park from 7.3 horses in 2000 to 7.7 horses in 2001 to 7.9 horses in 2002. Bettors usually wager more on races with larger fields.

Raffetto said he was also pleased with the betting figures from the Laurel fall meet, which began Oct. 7 and ended yesterday. However, the Laurel fall meet this year included seven more live racing days and five more simulcast days.

In-state betting on the Laurel meet fell 6.3 percent (from $20.4 million in 2001 to $19.1 million in 2002), while in-state betting on out-of-state races rose 9.1 percent (from $85.2 million in 2001 to $92.9 million in 2002). Out-of-state betting on the Laurel meet increased 15 percent (from $79 million in 2001 to $90.9 million in 2002).

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