Cojinx won the My Juliet Handicap at Laurel yesterday after Local Thriller ran away from the field.
The anticipated showdown between Cojinx and Local Thriller was eight minutes away when Local Thriller got a notion to flee. First, she froze on the way to the post parade, and after Carlos Barrera dismounted, she took off.
Running clockwise around the track, the bay mare shadowed the outside rail at full speed and covered almost a mile before she reached the starting gate area in the seven-furlong chute. There, she hopped a rail and jogged down a swath of land between woods and the outside rail of the backstretch, then headed for the barn area, where she was soon apprehended -- apparently unharmed.
Local Thriller was withdrawn, and the $55,600 My Juliet lost an element of intrigue. At the time of her departure, she had drawn almost as many win dollars as favored Cojinx, who was assigned eight more pounds, 122, as highweight.
With her main rival eliminated, Cojinx still had no easy time of it. Her lead was tenuous with a sixteenth of a mile left, when she began to leave her challengers under Joe Rocco's right-handed strokes. She passed the wire 1 1/2 lengths before Run Spot, who closed outside to take second from Seraglio by a neck.
It was a creditable effort for Seraglio. She hadn't raced since October and had won most of her $180,000 last year in distance races; the My Juliet was seven furlongs.
Seraglio sped to nearly a two-length lead on the backside before Cojinx moved in on her at the far turn with no prompting from Rocco. Seraglio, however, remained within a half-length of her until deep into the stretch, when Cojinx pulled away and Run Spot rallied for second.
Finishing in 1:24 1/5, Cojinx won the fourth of her last five starts and sixth of her last eight. No Maryland-based female has beaten her on dirt in 10 months, but trainer Carlos Garcia said he'll probably give her one more race here before trying the Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga in August.
Cojinx returned $3.60 with her 11th win and finished off a late pick three worth $81.80. Under Maryland rules, if a horse is scratched in a pick three race, wagers on that horse automatically are transferred to the favorite. Lost Vision
Chris DeCarlo, who avoided injury in a two-horse spill Saturday, took off his mounts yesterday. The reason: He couldn't find his contact lenses.
The stewards, meanwhile, reviewed tapes of the accident in which jockey Marco Castaneda broke his right wrist and a horse had to be destroyed. They suspended jockeys Mike Luzzi and Greg Hutton seven days beginning Wednesday for allowing their horses to drift, precipitating the spills.
Barrera was held blameless in Social Retiree's disqualification from first in Saturday's Governor's Cup.