BALTIMORE, JUNE 12 -- Valay Maid brushed off eight fillies to win the Hilltop Stakes today as Pimlico completed a record meeting.
The 70-day spring season produced an average daily handle of $1,866,389, the largest ever at a Maryland track. Laurel had established the previous mark, $1,735,820, during the 32-day meet that preceded this.
Pimlico's handle, bolstered by a double-triple jackpot that exceeded $1 million in April, was up 6.7 percent over 1989. The average attendance, 12,850, rose 4.5 percent.
Racing returns to Laurel for a 31-day meet beginning Thursday, the card highlighted by the Politely Stakes. Milo Perrins is scheduled to return as track announcer replacing Trevor Denman, who's going back to California.
King Leatherbury, racing's second-winningest trainer in history, earned an unprecedented 16th Pimlico title by winning with 39 of 240 starters. Dale Capuano was second with 23 victories.
Apprentice Mark Johnston won his first meet title in a runaway. Johnston won 105 races to beat Edgar Prado by 26. He's the first rider other than Kent Desormeaux to win a Pimlico meet since 1986.
Trainer Jim Woods and Charles Town, W.Va.-based jockey Phil Grove earned $1,000 bonuses for top winning percentages.
Woods's stable of four horses won seven of 16 races (44 percent) and finished third or better in all but one of them (94 percent). "I put three horses in the last week, but the races didn't go," said Woods, who's been training four years. "So it wasn't that I just sat on the lead and then laughed at them." He added, "The help's tickled. I guess I need to throw a party now."
In today's closing feature, Valay Maid tightened her hold as the top Maryland-bred 3-year-old filly by overtaking Tamany Doll a furlong out and proceeding to a one-length victory over Mymet, who found mild traffic problems early in the stretch.
Valay Maid ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42 3/5 in her first start on the turf. A daughter of the Maryland-based stallion Carnivalay, she paid $4.60 with her sixth win in nine starts.