Willowy Mood came from New York as the heavy favorite to win yesterday's $44,400 First Lady Handicap at Laurel. Pot Of Antics, with a home-track advantage, used a strong kick to upset the gray mare.
Racing secretary Larry Abbundi assigned Willowy Mood 120 pounds, three more than Pot Of Antics and In The Curl. Many in the crowd of 9,597 considered Willowy Mood's weight concession minimal, as she was bet down to 6 to 5. But Pot Of Antics, at 3 to 1, proved the value in a hard-fought stretch drive.
In a field of 10, Willowy Mood started quickly from the outside, but jockey Herb McCauley chose to restrain her as In The Curl and Nasty Letters rushed up to, and past her, on the inside. Willowy Mood fell into fourth place nearing the turn -- about three lengths ahead of Pot Of Antics -- as long shot Supper For Two slipped past her.
But midway around the bend, McCauley let the mare loose, and she swept into the lead three-wide turning for home. As she took command, Clarence (JoJo) Ladner was sending Pot Of Antics into contention toward the inside.
With In The Curl and Nasty Letters tiring in his path, however, Ladner had to swing Pot Of Antics outside entering the stretch, and the filly never lost momentum. Willowy Mood opened about a one-length lead with a furlong to go, but it wasn't enough. Pot Of Antics caught her at the 16th-mile pole and eased past for a half-length victory. Supper For Two, who had fallen out of third place rounding the turn, regained her stride and finished third, three lengths off the winner.
Trained by Steward Mitchell, Pot Of Antics produced her third victory in four tries this meeting and confirmed her status as one of the circuit's most versatile and consistent fillies. The 4-year-old, who covered seven furlongs in 1:25, also has won at one mile and 1 1/16 miles in 1987; moreover, she has had 19 starts this year against top-notch competitors, winning six races and $168,437.
In New York, Vinnie the Viper ($7.60) gave jockey Julie Krone her fourth winner of the day, by a nose in the six-furlong, $68,000 Gravesend Handicap at Aqueduct. Krone also had won Saturday's Aqueduct feature and Saturday night's Meadowlands feature.