Luck Penny, a no-show last Saturday for the All Brandy Handicap, is odds-on to start today in the $46,050 Anne Arundel Handicap at Laurel.
She'll start, that is, if the program is presented. There is a considerable amount of water on the racing strip. If a severe freeze hits the area Friday night, as predicted, there is a chance today's card will have to be canceled, as Wednesday's was.
Laurel, naturally, will make every effort to preserve its Saturday action. The weekend always provides the largest parimutuel handle and the Anne Arundel shapes up as a good betting attraction, what with Northern Sea challenging Luck Penny for the role of favorite in the field of 13 3-year-old fillies.
"I scratched Luck Penny last week because I didn't like all the weight she was assigned; that 128 pounds was too much," Bernie Bond said this week.
"I'm not exactly thrilled with the 121 pounds Luck Penny's been given this week, either," the trainer added. "My filly's been beating Maryland-breds while Northern Sea's put together an excellent record in open competition against better runners."
Northern Sea carries equal weight of 121 with Luck Penny today. The two fillies figure exceptionally close. Both have high early speed. The fractions will be professional.
Northern Sea worked five furlongs in 1:00 in the mud Tuesday. Luck Penny blew out yesterday morning.They're ready.
Society Dame probably will be the third choice, under 113 pounds ahead of Sea Drone, 112. Completing the lineup are Race The Tide, 108; One Night Affair, 111; Double Axle, 107; Once Far Luck, 108; Well Hit, 112; Worrisome Thing, 108; Romantic Journey, 107; Jamila Kadir, 109, and Meteor Dancer, 109.
Merrall MacNeille will retire from the stewards' stand Dec. 31 after 26 years of service as a racing official in Maryland, and the list of persons seeking to be his successor is quite long.
The job pays from $116 to $125 a day, six days a week, year-round. That's quite a different schedule than the one MacNeille started with, in 1949, when area bettors enjoyed extended vacations between meetings.
MacNeille plans to retire to his Glyndon, Md., farm. He is a nice man, an articulate man, a gentleman of the old school who lent a quiet dignity to his position. He also was one of the key witnesses for the prosecution in the Valentine's Day case that led to the banishment of jockeys Eric Walsh, Ben Feliciano, Jesse Davidson and Luigi Gino.
There are three stewards at a race track. They are responsible for the overall conduct of the sport. Fred Colwill and Melvin Mackin occupy the other seats.
"We have had eight formal applications, nine other letters of inquiry and hundreds of phone calls in response to a 'want ad' for the job offered in a Baltimore newspaper," said Jim Callahan, secretary of the Maryland Racing Commission. "We never advertised, of course, but you'd be surprised how the phone started ringing when people got the wrong impression."