Country Recital rallied from last place in the final half-mile to defeat eight fillies in today's $33,600 Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico, which concluded its winter/spring meeting.
Jockey Vince Bracciale Jr. never hurried Country Recital, second betting choice at 5 to 2, even while she trailed through the backstretch.
As Joan R., Marion's Madel and Pretty Tricky battled for the early lead, Bracciale sent Country Recital charging on the outside. Nearing the stretch, Joan R. opened a three-length lead. But Country Recital, rapidly circling the field, overtook Joan R. inside the quarter-mile pole and pulled away.
Bracciale whipped Country Recital three times left- and right-handed, then glanced at his pursuers and rode out a 5 1/2-length victory in 1:46. Lost Reason, a 49-to-1 shot, closed belatedly to defeat Green Boundary by a head, keying a $284.60 exacta.
Steel Maiden, the 11-to-10 favorite, encountered breathing problems, according to jockey Alberto Delgado, and finished a distant last.
The victory completed an outstanding meeting for Barclay Tagg, who finished third among trainers with 28 victories in 110 tries. The leaders, Ron Alfano (43 victories) and King Leatherbury (30) had 205 and 218 starters.
Allen Stacy was thwarted in his bid to become the fifth jockey to win 100 races at a Pimlico meeting. Stacy had no winners today, finishing with 97; Donald Miller Jr. was second with 66.
For the meeting, Pimlico had an average daily attendance of 8,881 and a handle of $1,160,325, about the same as last year's averages.
Laurel begins its 31-day meeting Sunday at 1:30; the 10-race program features the $30,000-added Pinafore Handicap for fillies and mares. Capp It Off, victorious in her last two starts, has been assigned 118 pounds as highweight.