`Gams' outfoxes `Bettie B' to win Laurel's Safely Kept

Forced outside, favorite comes up just short of Fogelsonger's ride

Horse racing

October 22, 2006|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN REPORTER

From the moment trainer Ben Perkins Jr. saw he had the outside post for the Grade III, $200,000 Safely Kept Breeder's Cup Stakes at Laurel Park yesterday, he began to plot.

"Mr. Perkins told me to keep [Wildcat Bettie B] inside if I could," said jockey Ryan Fogelsonger, who rode the Perkins-trained Wild Gams to a three-quarters-of-a-length victory over the favored Wildcat Bettie B. "And the race pretty much set up the way we wanted it to. We felt [Wildcat Bettie B] was the one to beat and she was inside of me. She had to move around three other horses and mine to win and we had a good trip."

Wild Gams, a homebred owned by E.B. Novak and raised at his New Farm in Marlton, N.J., was content in the fifth spot early, keeping Bettie B on the inside. Fogelsonger then pressed his 3-year-old filly into action in the upper stretch and took the lead about 60 yards from the finish.

Wild Gams, sired by Forest Wildcat, completed the six furlongs in 1 minute, 9.93 seconds, won $120,000 and paid $14 to win.

Coming down the stretch, Wildcat Bettie B, who came into this race off three consecutive stakes wins, went five-wide, beat third-place finisher G. City Gal by a head and was closing on the leader when time ran out.

Wild Gams had come close to beating Wildcat Bettie B in the Grade I Prioress at Belmont Park, but lost by a neck when she was able to stay on Wild Gams' outside hip to be perfectly placed to make a late move that caught Wild Gams at the wire.

This time, Perkins wanted to change the game plan, and make his move late.

"I told Ryan, whatever you do, wait just as long as you can and keep her [Bettie B] inside of you where we'll be able to clear her. She'll have to try and come around us."

Mario Pino, who rode Wildcat Bettie B yesterday, said he wasn't troubled by the tactic and neither was his horse, but things happen.

"I wish every race set up like that," Pino said. "But when it was time to go at the three-eighths pole, she hopped up and down and I couldn't get her level. When she took to the right lead, she took off, but it was too late."

In the winner's circle, Fogelsonger couldn't keep the smile from his face, not even for a second. Yesterday's win was his seventh graded-stakes victory. But what really pleased him was winning the Safely Kept Stakes, which has been his favorite race since his rookie season, when trainer Tim Amos "mistakenly" put the then-apprentice jockey on Miss Lodi.

"He looked at the jockey standings and saw I was leading and thought I was a veteran rider," Fogelsonger said. "When he found out, he said, `Oh, man, a bug rider! What have I done?'

"But he kept me on and we won. It was my first graded-stakes victory."

Fogelsonger is second in the Laurel meet jockey standings with 32 wins to Anna "Rosie" Napravnik's 35.

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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