For two months, trainer Hyman (Hap) Ravich has tried to get the speedy Endless Surprise to conserve his energy during a race, with little success. So, before yesterday's $43,500 Chesapeake Handicap at Laurel, he told jockey Kent Desormeaux simply to use his judgement.
With four victories already under his belt yesterday, Desormeaux restrained Endless Surprise early, then rallied in the stretch to defeat Silano by two lengths. Gala Gold Dust was third, a whisker behind Silano.
Before the race, Endless Surprise was regarded as a one-dimensional front-runner who could only win going wire to wire. With fleet Gala Gold Dust and Aaron's Concorde part of the seven-horse field, he seemed no bargain at odds of 9 to 5. But Desormeaux proved you can teach an older horse new tactics.
Gala Gold Dust put Aaron's Concorde away rounding the turn, then opened nearly a three-length lead into the stretch. Desormeaux, meanwhile, was struggling to get Endless Surprise in gear.
Shortly thereafter, 10,487 at Laurel saw an extraordinary sight: Endless Surprise passing Gala Gold Dust in deep stretch.
On a fast track, Endless Surprise completed six furlongs in a meeting-best 1:09 3/5, a second off the track record. The gray horse has won 13 of 27 lifetime starts.
Broad Brush has been named champion Maryland-bred for the second consecutive year.
The 5-year-old, whom owner Robert Meyerhoff retired to stud in Kentucky last fall, also was voted best older male by a panel of three: Maryland racing director Larry Abbundi, commercial handicapper Jerry Brown and the editorial staff of Maryland Horse magazine. Journalists who regularly cover Maryland racing boycotted the voting after the Maryland Horse Breeders Association restricted each newspaper to one vote.
Broad Brush was third or better in each of nine starts in 1987, winning the Santa Anita, Campbell and Suburban handicaps and a total of $1.2 million.