Dumdedumdedum and Flip's Pleasure were shipped from New York for yesterday's Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Race Course, but they traveled distinctly different routes in winning divisions of the Grade III seven-furlong event.
In the first division, jockey Donald Miller Jr. kept Dumdedumdedum on the rail throughout en route to a 2 1/2-length victory. In the second division, Flip's Pleasure and jockey Jean-Luc Samyn circled three horses around the final turn to win by 4 1/2 lengths.
Two $100,000 races on the same card was a first for Maryland racing. When such a race is split, the value of each division generally is about $70,000. But Laurel has had such a profitable meeting that management enhanced the Fritchie's divisional value to $110,450.
The Fritchie highlighted the final day of Laurel's winter meeting, which had a track-record daily average handle of $1,195,733, a 20.9 percent increase over last winter's Bowie meeting. The average attendance, 7,905, was up 13.5 percent.
Laurel President Frank DeFrancis, who substantiated his promise to rejuvenate Maryland racing, said, "The figures are impressive, but what is more important is the enthusiastic attitude of the fans, the upbeat mood of the horsemen and jockeys and the spirit of cooperation from the employes that is the real success of this meet."
Pimlico will open today.
In the first division of the Fritchie, Miller showed why he led jockeys in victories this meeting. Breaking from the No. 3 position, he sent Dumdedumdedum rushing from the gate, disallowing the quick-breaking Sharp Little Girl a clear lead from the outside post. Approaching the half-mile pole, Miller advanced Dumdedumdedum along the rail within a neck of Sharp Little Girl, who under Samyn was setting mediocre fractions of 23 seconds for a quarter-mile and 46 2/5 for a half-mile (earlier in the day, $5,000 claiming horses recorded 23 and 47). Masked Barb, Sea Siren and 2-to-1 favorite Kattegat's Pride battled for third, two lengths back.
Entering the turn, Dumdedumdedum drew abreast of Sharp Little Girl. She surged to a slight lead approaching the final turn, while Masked Barb, Sea Siren and Kattegat's Pride swung wide in an attempt to circle the leaders.
But Miller handled the turn superbly, keeping Dumdedumdedum planted on the rail while she opened up by three lengths over the tiring Sharp Little Girl. He whipped Dumdedumdedum twice as the filly moved to a four-length lead and easily held off rallying Kattegat's Pride, giving Miller his fourth Fritchie victory in five tries.
Dumdedumdedum, who finished in 1:25, earned $87,993, including a $16,200 Breeders' Cup premium award. She paid $11.20 to win.
Samyn benefited from a tactical change in the second division. This time, he had Flip's Pleasure clear and relaxed in fourth position along the backstretch while Linka, Gene's Lady and even-money favorite Applause fought for the lead. Gene's Lady assumed an abbreviated lead between Linka and Applause, but she could not retain it around the turn, where she and Linka began to falter.
Applause, ridden by Miller, gained a slight advantage into the stretch, but the wide trip had taken its toll. Samyn had Flip's Pleasure boldly charging on the outside -- forced even wider after Applause swerved to the right and brushed her -- and took command with a furlong to run.
"(Trainer Allen) Jerkens said to wait behind Applause," he said. "When Applause made her move, I had my eye on her and went after her."
Applause, who had won three of her previous four races, cut her right foreleg while working out Saturday morning. "It didn't seem like it was affecting her warming up," Miller said. "But I could tell she was a little stiff for the first sixteenth of a mile." Flip's Pleasure, who ran a full second faster than Dumdedumdedum, paid $10.40 to win.