Angelina County had everything her way for yesterday's $56,450 Gala Lil Handicap at Laurel. The champion Maryland-bred filly of 1987 had won four of her last five stakes races, she had the bettors' support at 6 to 5 and she had almost a four-length lead around the far turn. But she didn't have enough.
Smart 'n Quick rallied three-wide into the lane, overtook Angelina County in midstretch and outfinished Pretty Tricky by a length. Angelina County was third, another length back.
Under Greg Hutton, Smart 'n Quick completed a mile in 1:37 3/5 over a fast track, boosting her earnings to $382,974. The gray mare has won eight of 22 career starts and two of her last three stakes tries; the miss came when she stumbled at the start of Laurel's Carousel Handicap four weeks ago and unseated jockey Alberto Delgado, who broke his collarbone in the fall.
Angelina County's demise in the stretch might have surprised many in the crowd of 11,831, but the Gala Lil outcome was not nearly as confounding as that of the second race. In the second half of Laurel's daily double, Baron Woodsboro edged past Nifty Guy following a lengthy stretch duel to win a race for $8,500 claimers.
Baron Woodsboro hadn't finished either of his previous two races. On Dec. 11, jockey Ron Franklin pulled up Baron Woodsboro when the 3-year-old gelding lost his action approaching the half-mile pole; on Dec. 19, the horse appeared to duck out near the five-eighths mile pole, and Franklin abruptly pulled him up again.
The racing stewards ordered trainer Tom Voss to work Baron Woodsboro at Laurel before them and a track veterinarian, and Voss obliged. Baron Woodsboro worked a half-mile in an uneventful 51 seconds and was declared fit to race.
"The horse worked good, so we gave him another shot," steward Jean Chalk said yesterday. "If he had been eased up today, you probably wouldn't have seen the horse for a while."
In a competitive eight-horse field yesterday, Baron Woodsboro was a mere 9 to 1. "If I hadn't been around him and had seen the way the horse ran the last two times," Voss said, "I wouldn't have bet on him."
Voss made two changes with Baron Woodsboro before yesterday's race. He did not equip the horse with blinkers, and he replaced Franklin with Santos Chavez.
Chavez rallied Baron Woodsboro within three lengths of Nifty Guy and jockey Kent Desormeaux at the head of the stretch, where his progress halted momentarily -- until Chavez went to his whip.
"Mr. Voss told me not to be afraid of him," Chavez said. "It seemed he really likes to be hit; he just took off. He might be a little green, but I've seen a lot worse."
Baron Woodsboro paid $21.60 to win and completed a $49.80 daily double.
Jockey Andrea Seefeldt was reported in stable condition with a fractured pelvis following an accident during training hours yesterday morning at Laurel.
Seefeldt was preparing to work an unraced thoroughbred when the horse reared near the starting gate and flipped backward onto Seefeldt. Seefeldt remained conscious and was transported by helicopter to the Shock Trauma Unit of University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore.
According to Dr. Richard Roettger of the Shock Trauma Unit, Seefeldt, 24, broke her right pelvis -- front and back -- but experienced no internal bleeding.
Seefeldt has won two of 86 races this fall/winter meeting at Laurel.