Jockey Jose Santos eschewed a lucrative racing card at Aqueduct to ride Spring Beauty in yesterday's $125,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Race Course. But Psyched and jockey Kent Desormeaux denied Santos the victory and riches he sought.
Desormeaux, Laurel's dominant rider, advanced Psyched along the inside, swept past Kerygma in the stretch and crossed the wire two lengths before Spring Beauty, the 4-to-5 favorite who had won last year's Fritchie. Third-place Kerygma finished 2 1/2 lengths behind Psyched, Desormeaux's fourth winner of the day.
Although 5 years old, Psyched had raced only 13 times, and just once since September. Her trainer, Barclay Tagg, seldom places horses beyond their means, so he was concerned that Psyched's prep for the Fritchie -- a quarter-length victory against allowance company -- would be adequate.
"She responds best when she's fresh, so I wasn't sure last week whether I'd run her in the Fritchie," said Tagg, Laurel's third-leading trainer. "But I changed my mind because she's been looking and acting so good the past few days."
By reconsidering, Tagg helped earn $81,250 for Russell Jones Jr., who bred Psyched in his home state of Pennsylvania.
Although lightly raced, Psyched is not lightly traveled. When Jones discovered she had knee problems as a 2-year-old, he sent her to Europe with hope that turf racing would extend her career. But after breaking her maiden, Psyched performed blandly and was shipped back to the United States after six races. In March 1987, Tagg started her in an $18,500 claiming race at Pimlico; yesterday, he and Jones recalled the race with gleeful banter.
Jones: "I can't believe we had her in for a tag. That sure was some gamble."
Tagg: "Gamble? That was the smartest thing we could have done. That race gave her some confidence; it showed her how to win."
Jones: "I'm glad to see she hasn't forgotten it."
In Psyched's eight races in the United States, she has won six and been second twice. She took the Fritchie -- her second stakes victory -- in typical fashion by coming off the pace.
Kerygma, another of Tagg's horses who did not run as an entry with Psyched because they're owned separately, took the lead along with Angelina County and Femme Gendarme. As the three matched strides midway through the backstretch, Santos had Spring Beauty about a length behind on the outside, with Desormeaux and Psyched behind them on the inside.
Although he was in perfect striking position, Santos knew Spring Beauty would be hard-pressed to win. "I saw that the rail was really fast today," he said. "My horse was going to have to be much the best to circle this field and win."
Kerygma opened a three-length lead on Angelina County with a 45 4/5-second half-mile, as Spring Beauty dropped back momentarily around the far turn and Desormeaux moved Psyched in to third. She surged past Angelina County on the inside, caught Kerygma and Allen Stacy inside the 3/16th-mile pole and strode home in 1:22 3/5 for seven furlongs.
Private Terms, one of Locust Hill Farm's two undefeated colts trained by Charlie Hadry, is the 5-to-2 favorite in today's $100,000-added General George Stakes at Laurel. Among 12 other entrants are two New York-based horses: Delightful Doctor, who won Aqueduct's Count Fleet Stakes, and Dynaformer.