Horatius, the second choice in yesterday's opening day feature at Bowie Race Course, took over the lead under Bill Passmore turning for home and coasted to a 3 1/2-length victory over Bold Josh in the $50,000-added Resolution Handicap. All The More finished a well-beaten third.
The disappointing first-day crowd of 12,465, which bet Hempt's Lark down to 6 to 5, looked on as Passmore waited until the quarter pole to make his winning move. Meanwhile, jockey Danny Wright was whipping and driving on Hemp's Lark, who could never get close once the horses reached the stretch drive.
Wright said, "He simply couldn't handle that type of track."
Attorney Edward Bennett Williams, who made the winning trophy presentation, said, "Hempt's Lark had won five in a row and my party tried to get even on him. We followed the selections in The Washington Post and tried to bail out with the favorite."
Williams, who recently purchased the Baltimore Orioles, added in response to a reporter's question, "Yes, I'm in the market for an apartment in Baltimore.
Bowie's opening was a financial failure compared to the same day last year. The mutuel handle was $1,332.954, a drop of $100,000 from last year. However, the fans received the new computerized betting system enthusiastically. All buying and cashing of tickets is done at the same window.
Alfonso Evans, a regular fan from Washington, said, "The system is nice. It's better than the old way."
Veteran guard Ben Cirincione said after the fifth race, "I'm amazed at how smoothly everything is going. I expected problems. I'm keeping my fingers crossed."
Charles Turner, operator of a car wash in Bowie, said, "The new system is good. It makes so much sense. Now if we can get the Sunday racing here at Bowie it will make it so much better for me."
Jim Brown of Baltimore was not totally sold. "I like the new system," he said, "but I'm still not sure I bet on the horse I wanted to. My friend got shut out when the machine broke down from a few minutes, so I'm still a little dubious."
Horatius returned $6.40 to win after running the 1 1-16 miles in a moderate 1:48 over a deep track. The win was ninth this season, bringing his earnings well over the $200,000 mark.
Trainer James Murphy said of the winner, "He goes to Middleburg for a well deserved rest."