Castellano guides Cruise Along to Geisha Handicap win

December 08, 2003|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

Cruise Along pulled away from a solid field of Maryland-bred fillies and mares in dominating fashion to win the $100,000 Geisha Handicap yesterday at Laurel Park.

Sent off as the third choice behind multiple stakes winners Shiny Sheet (4-5) and Undercover (2-1), the Larry Murray-trained horse was unhurried early by jockey Abel Castellano as the favorites battled up front. Castellano advanced the daughter of Runaway Groom around the far turn and swept to command at the top of the stretch. She pulled away for a 4 1/2 -length victory, her first on the dirt.

Shiny Sheet, conditioned by Charlie Hadry, was second and Undercover, from the Tony Dutrow barn, finished third. The winner paid $17.20 and topped a $72.80 exacta and a $169.80 triple.

She covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1 minute, 42.98 seconds.

"I thought we were up against it with Charlie Hadry's horse and Tony's horse and would have been tickled to be third," Murray said. "She had been training well, and that is why we gave her a shot."

"The horse just took off," said Castellano, Laurel's leading rider. "She just exploded at the eighth pole. I was surprised how well she ran."

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