Jockey Vince-Bracciale reached 2,500 career victories yesterday when he rode Skipper's Friend to a 4 1/2-length victory in the $50,000-added Resolution Handicap, Bowie's opening-day feature.
Frejus, the 9-to-5 favorite in the Resolution, finished well and was second, more than four lengths before longshot Wind Change. The running time for the 1 1/6 miles, over a track labeled "good" despite the snow, was 1:45 2/5. The winning mutuel was $6.20.
A modest exacta payoff of $25 developed when Horatius, one of the contenders in the five-horse field, finished off the board. Horatius, a solid performer on the Eastern seaboard for several years, was making his last start before going to stud.
Bracciale, 27, started riding 10 years ago at Charles Town. "It's good to get over the 2,500 hump," he said. "I should have won that last race I rode at Laurel but the horse stumbled. Otherwise we would have made it."
Bowie, which uses the motto "When it snows, Bowie goes" in publicity releases, had to confer with the National Weather Forecasting Co. at Newark Airport before making the decision to run at 8:30 a.m. General Manager Al Karwacki, who had directed the harrowing and floating of the track at 4:30 a.m., was informed that only an inch of accumulation was expected and that the snow flurries would taper off at noon.
The crowd of 6,383 wagered $815,492 nearly 500,000 less than Bowie's opening day of last year.
Racing fans attending the recently concluded Laurel meeting concur on one thing: The newly constructed racing strip was a welcome change as horses ran truer to form with fewer breakdowns.
Among the highlights of that meeting included the superior performances of the 2-year-old colt Cure The Blues, one of the earlyline favorites for this year's Kentucky Derby, and the exciting run of Argument from last place to win the Washington, D.C. International.
The filly Heavenly Cause, the fifth straight winner of the Selima to be named the winner of an Eclipse Award, is in the running for the Maryland-bred Horse of the Year.
Early bird wagering and the Pick Six form of exotic wagering appear to be on the way out of the Maryland racing scene.
The Early Bird innovation appears to take away from the live gate significantly and has failed to produce enough volume to make it worth keeping.
The Pick Six never got off the ground due to the small pools, resulting in low payoffs for such a difficult task of picking six straight winners. Gulfstream Park in Florida has initiated a Pick Six that allows a carryover of large amounts of money, should there be no bettor selecting all six races correctly. Bowie had sought the carryover innovation, but was turned down by the racing commission.
The maturation of apprentice Ken Black into a highly competent jockey has brought horsemen to the door of agent Chick Lang in large numbers. Unlike Ron Franklin, who did not become a skillful rider until after losing his apprenticeship, Black appears to make a significant difference in the outcome of races while getting a five-pound allowance. That allowance will continue until the spring.