BALTIMORE, MAY 28 -- My Frenchman had a notion to speed today, and Donnie Miller Jr. didn't arrest him. Miller's mount fought off persistent challenges by Full Colonel and D. Guilford to win Pimlico's Roman Handicap in a photo finish.
Cojinx, the favored filly who had won three straight stakes races, finished seventh on a moist turf course. Jockey Marco Castaneda said the horse didn't take to the grass in her first-ever turf race, and he didn't punish her once it became a three-horse race early in the stretch.
My Frenchman won last year's Roman from off the pace, but he showed a different side today. Breaking from the rail with nine horses outside him, he displayed front-running speed that surprised Miller.
"I wasn't expecting him to be that close" to the lead, said Miller, who rode three winners today, two for trainer James W. Murphy. "But in these five-furlong races, you have to take what you can get."
Full Colonel, second highest at 35-1 odds, stayed even with My Frenchman from the opening, and along the far turn D. Guilford joined them on the outside. Cojinx, who had been within four lengths, fell back.
D. Guilford might have had a slight lead with a furlong remaining but couldn't keep it. "I'm pretty sure if he had gotten a post inside he would have won the race," jockey Edgar Prado said. "Having to go three-wide hurt him."
The outcome was in doubt with less than a furlong to go before My Frenchman edged ahead. He reached the wire a head before Full Colonel, who had a neck on D. Guilford. Rifleman rallied for fourth.
My Frenchman finished in 58 3/5 seconds for his first victory since October. He paid $12.20 to win on the last Monday program until August (at Timonium), as Pimlico and Laurel return to five-day weeks.
'Templar' Breaks Through
Templar Hill won his first race in 2 1/2 years and ended a five-week winless spell for trainer Jerry Robb by outlasting Sir Sprite in a $60,000 claiming race.
The two were abreast virtually the entire stretch before Greg Hutton pushed Templar Hill past to win by a head. It was the first victory since Nov. 14, 1987, by Templar Hill, whom Arnold Heft bought for $50,000 in February. . . .
Ten Keys was nominated to today's $500,000-added Hollywood Turf Handicap in Inglewood, Calif., but the 6-year-old stayed home. Trainer Mike Pino said Maryland's turf star strained a leg during his sixth-place finish in the recent Dixie Handicap and probably won't race for a month. . . .
Trainers Robert Gamber and Jerry Ferris will begin 15-day suspensions Wednesday because of phenylbutazone overages in one of their horses. Gamber's violation, his second since the fall, was detected in Merry Go Regal following her victory April 19. Ferris was cited after Bull Durham Miss finished second in a race May 17.