Jockey Angel Cordero swung hardstriding Relaxing to the outside for secure running room in yesterday's $125,000-added John B. Campbell Handicap at Bowie, then hand-rode the 5-year-old mare to a three-length victory over favored Irish Tower.
Longshot Peat Moss closed well to be third, another two lengths behind. Skipat, the other female in the nine-horse field, was fourth.
Before the 27th running of Bowie's closing-day feature, Malcom H. Winfield, owner of Irish Tower, said: "That mare of Ogden Phipps' is a tough animal. In fact, this whole field is tough. It should make for an intereting race."
Skipat sped out of the gate to the lead in the 1 1/4-mile race, with Irish Tower right behind and slightly outside of her. The pair had their private battle until the stretch turn where jockey Jeff Fell nudged the high-weighted favorite. Irish Tower, who had won his last four races, appeared to be handling the impost of 128 pounds well.
But out of the pack came Relaxing, making a powerful move along the rail. As that mare approached the front-runner, it appeared that there might not be room to get through on the inside. Cordero, who won the 1974 Campbell with a late run astride True Knight, was confident that the daughter of Buckpasser was up to the task and swung wide. She was struck once from the right side and bounded away under a snug hold.
Cordero said in the winner's circle: "I was looking back when I took the lead. I got into her at the three-eighths to the three-sixteenths pole. I can't compare her to True Knight."
Fell said later: "Irish Tower had a lot of weight. He ran hard and true."
The running time was 2:04 3/5 against a still wind in the stretch.
Relaxing, who is headed for the court of Nijinksky when her racing days are over, toted 123 pounds and the win was the sixth in succession under the tutelage of trainer Angel Penna, who has also trained two winners of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
He said: "Mr. Phipps is in Palm Beach. I couldn't find a race for this mare. That's why she was idle for two months. It was a good race for her. She goes back to New York tomorrow."
The winner was only the second female to win this righest running of the Campbell and the first to win since it was lengthened to the classic distance of 1 1/4 miles. She paid $7.60 to win and topped an 8-5 exacta worth $13.40. The net to her owner was $90,090, pushing her seasonal earnings past $120,000.
Bowie's closing-day figures were $2,031,975 bet on the 10-race card by 13,479 fans. The average daily handle came to $1,092,216, a fractional drop compared to last year. Ron Alfano was the leading trainer with 55 wins and apprentice Ken Black was the leading rider with 71 victories.
The action will move to Pimlico Monday where the Hirsch Jacobs Stakes for Triple Crown aspirants will be the opening-day feature. Post time will be 1 p.m.