TIMONIUM, MD., SEPT. 7 -- As Pimlico's short fall meeting begins Tuesday, trainer Dick Small says his horse is ready to go the distance.
Small was speaking of Hay Halo, Maryland's juvenile champion of 1986 and the early 8-to-5 favorite in Tuesday's $75,000-added Northern Dancer Stakes for 3-year-old Maryland-breds.
The opening feature of Pimlico's 33-day fall meeting is 1 1/8 miles; Hay Halo is the class of the six-horse field with four stakes victories and $188,093 in career winnings, but he hasn't won a distance race since Laurel's Inner Harbor last December. Small said he believes that will change today.
"He's looks good and he's training real well," Small said. "Actually, this horse will go great distances; I think he'll go a mile and a half. He's got very good wind."
Hay Halo's dam, Hay Patcher, also produced Broad Brush, Maryland's horse of the year in 1986. "He's faster than his brother," Small said of Hay Halo.
Hay Halo's last race was his most difficult: a fifth-place finish in the Aug. 9 Jim Dandy Stakes. Ridden by Gregg McCarron, Hay Halo ended up eight lengths behind winner Polish Navy in the slop at Saratoga; Pledge Card and Cryptoclearance were second and third. Polish Navy won the Woodward Stakes this past Saturday.
Competition in the Northern Dancer barely compares. Small's chief concern is the race's only other stakes winner, Green Book, whom Hay Halo defeated by five lengths in Laurel's six-furlong Missile Stakes in March. Vince Bracciale Jr. is scheduled to ride the John Hicks-trained colt, whose $109,879 earnings this year are high among the six entrants.
Rounding out the field are Grand Rol, who made his first start of 1987 in June, won an allowance race at Pimlico in July, then finished seventh, 15 lengths back, in the Jim Dandy; Mystic Wars, a colt from Barclay Tagg's stable who has placed third or better in each of his eight career races; Prolinage, who was claimed for $14,500 in March by Gaston Briones, and Ringing, who has won one race -- a $25,000 claiming event on turf -- since May.
Grand Rol, Mystic Wars and Prolinage are eligible for the Sept. 19 Maryland Million races, the highlight of Pimlico's upcoming meet. Hay Halo is not eligible.
The Northern Dancer is today's ninth race at Pimlico, which will run 10-race programs. Eleven-race cards, including a simulcast, will be held on some weekend days. Post time is 1 p.m.
Timonium's 10-day meeting ended today. Jesse Davidson, with two winners today, edged Jeffrey Lloyd for leading jockey, 18 to 17.
Whip It Wood, a 6-year-old, won the All-Star Trot in Laurel. Go Get Lost finished second and Free Token third in the three-horse race.
The winning time of 1:57 for the mile was a track record for trotters at Freestate and earned driver John Patterson Jr. a $5,000 bonus for setting the record. The time also equaled a world record for aged trotters (5-year-olds and up) on a five-eighths-mile track.