Cativa sweetens pair's return in Fritchie win

Bear Fan flops

It's a happy homecoming for Dutrow, Prado

`Chic,' Silmaril are second, third

Horse Racing

February 20, 2005|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

A trainer and jockey, competing now in the big time, came home to Maryland yesterday and captured one of the biggest prizes on the state's winter racing calendar.

Cativa, a 5-year-old mare from New York, won the $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Park, providing a rousing homecoming for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. and jockey Edgar Prado. Cativa, at 5-1, outran the even-money favorite, Bear Fan, who faded to eighth.

Dutrow, a Maryland native and son of the respected trainer Richard "Dickie" Dutrow, and Prado, who dominated Maryland racing in the 1990s, divide their seasons between Florida and New York and often show up at the biggest races.

Two weeks ago at Gulfstream Park, they teamed to win the Donn Handicap, the first Grade I stakes of the year, with Saint Liam.

"Whenever you ride for Richard Dutrow, you always have a chance to win," Prado said after guiding Cativa to a 2 1/4 -length victory in her first stakes appearance in front of 7,142 Laurel patrons.

Dutrow claimed Cativa for $55,000 at Belmont Park in September 2003. Since then, she's won eight of 10 races.

She injured the suspensory ligament in her right front leg while winning a race by 7 1/2 lengths in the slop last June at Belmont. Dutrow gave her off until last month, when she returned with a half-length victory at Aqueduct.

"She just ran such a big race that we picked out this race," Dutrow said. "I figured she might be sitting on a big one. She was."

The highly regarded Bear Fan broke into the lead from Post 7. From Post 8, Cativa almost immediately settled into stride off Bear Fan's hip. Two of the country's top jockeys, John Velazquez on Bear Fan and Prado on Cativa, locked into battle.

However, Cativa quickly won the head-to-head competition when she passed Bear Fan on the turn, and Bear Fan began losing ground. Cativa galloped uncontested down the stretch, completing the seven furlongs in 1 minute, 23.64 seconds.

Sensibly Chic and Silmaril, two local entrants, finished second and third, respectively. Trained by Tim Tullock Jr. at Laurel, Sensibly Chic crossed the wire 4 1/4 lengths ahead of Silmaril, trained by Chris Grove at Bowie.

Cativa paid $13 to win. The exacta returned $61.80 and the trifecta paid $334. Josh's Madelyn, a filly from Arkansas, finished fourth. The superfecta paid $887.80.

Wesley Ward, trainer of Bear Fan, said his mare apparently tired on Laurel's deep, winterized racing surface.

Dutrow said he wasn't surprised that Bear Fan threw in the towel. He wasn't impressed with her last race three weeks ago at Gulfstream.

"I was willing to take a shot," he said.

Dutrow learned his trade from his father, one of the top trainers in Maryland during the 1970s and early 1980s. The senior Dutrow relocated to New York in the mid-1980s, and Dutrow Jr. went with him. Dickie Dutrow died in 1999.

"I wish my dad was here to be with us," Dutrow Jr. said while reminiscing about his home state in the winner's circle.

Prado also appreciated being back in Maryland. A patron from outside the winner's circle hollered: "Way to go, Edgar! Way to go!"

"You should never forget where you came from," Prado said.

One race before the Barbara Fritchie, Prado and Velazquez hooked up in the $125,000 John B. Campbell Breeders' Cup Handicap. Velazquez won this battle with Coast Line, a 4-year-old son of Boston Harbor who led every step of the 1 1/8 -mile race, with Offlee Wild seemingly glued nearly to his side.

After losing his first race in July 2003, Coast Line was gelded and has since won five straight. The Campbell was his first stakes try. As the even-money favorite, he edged Offlee Wild, the 3-2 second choice, by a neck.

"He's just grown with each start," said Seth Benzel, assistant to Todd Pletcher, who trains Coast Line for Overbrook Farm. "With each start, he gets more confidence."

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