Laurel Race Course concludes its successful winter meeting today with the 33rd Barbara Fritchie Handicap. The $147,600, seven-furlong race is for mares and older fillies.
Gene's Lady and Alabama Nana, two mares conditioned by Eclipse Award-winning trainer Wayne Lukas, are the overnight favorites to win the $76,440 winner's share of the feature.
Angel Cordero Jr. has been named to ride both of Lukas' horses. Gene's Lady is the highweight at 121 pounds, two more than her stablemate.
Gene's Lady won the Interborough Handicap at Aqueduct and finished second in her last start, the Berlo Handicap at six furlongs. Alabama Nana will be making her first start of 1986.
The main opposition to the highly regarded pair is expected to come from Aerturas, a mare who has competed successfully in California, where she won four of five starts last fall. She will be ridden by California jockey Marc Castaneda and is assigned 114 pounds.
Of the local contingent, Scotch Heather, winner of the Gala Lil Handicap at Laurel in her last start, is given the best chance for an upset by racing secretary Larry Abbundi, who weighted the gray 4-year-old at 114 pounds. She will be ridden by Mario Pino.
In yesterday's $58,800 Virginia Belle Handicap for fillies and mares, Native Derby took the lead at the outset under Greg Hutton, then fought off several strong challenges to defeat favored Nothing Sweeter by nearly two lengths. Final Chapter closed steadily to be third, three lengths back.
Native Derby ran the 1 1/8 miles over a good track in 1:54 and paid $23. The 1-4 exacta returned $128.80.