Joe Rocco gambled yesterday at Laurel and made a $45,000 score.

The track's leading jockey saw an inside opening on the far turn and brazenly pushed Mymet through it. The rail-clinging rally meant the difference between first and second as Mymet won the $75,000 Pearl Necklace Stakes by a neck over Baltic Chill.

Valay Maid, the leading Maryland-bred 3-year-old fillies and 7-10 favorite, finished two lengths behind in third after a somewhat problematic trip.

Valay Maid dominated her five rivals with six victories and nearly $250,000 earnings going in, but at no point was she in command. That in part was born of an early misstep, Valay Maid stumbling so completely her nose nearly touched the turf as she left the gate.

Jockey Chris DeCarlo, replacing the injured Marco Castaneda, said Valay Maid might have "grabbed a quarter" with her poor start -- a rear hoof gouging the back of a front foot.

Nevertheless, she had good position throughout the race, staying within two lengths of Oh Be Joyful's moderate pace until the far turn, where she pushed alongside the front-runner. It was there, midway through, that Rocco faced a critical decision as Mymet advanced from last place along the rail.

At the time, there wasn't great room between Oh Be Joyful and the fence. But Rocco figured that jockey Allen Stacy would attempt to carry out Valay Maid around the bend. Rocco decided to keep Mymet inside; if the hole didn't open, he'd have nowhere to go.

"I figured, 'If I'm gonna beat her {Valay Maid}, I'll have to save every inch of ground,' " Rocco said.

Stacy began floating Valay Maid deep into the turn, and with that Mymet burst through the opening. She had a three-length lead shortly into the stretch, but the race was far from over.

Baltic Chill, a Woody Stephens trainee running with Lasix for the first time, overcame a three-wide trip into the stretch, passing Valay Maid a furlong out and biting into Mymet's lead. Mymet's big advantage nearly wasn't enough, but she managed to hold on by a neck, going a firm 1 1/16 miles in 1:41 2/5 for her first stakes victory. In six distance races since she received anti-bleeding medication, she has four wins, a second and a third. She had finished a length behind Valay Maid in her previous race, the Hilltop Stakes.

Owner C. Oliver Goldsmith wasn't able to make it to Laurel after having knee surgery. "This will be a good tonic for him," said trainer Ron Cartwright.

In addition to earning 10 percent of the $45,000 purse, Rocco broke a tie with apprentice Mark Johnston as Laurel's leading rider. After beginning the day one win ahead, Rocco fell behind after Johnston won the second and third race. Rocco took the fourth aboard Dotty's Surprise, and Mymet's biggest triumph gave him a 19-18 lead.

Raney Injured in Spill

Apprentice jockey Leon Raney, 28, suffered a fractured right knee and broken femur when his horse clipped heels and fell on the far turn in yesterday's fifth race. He spent the night at Greater Laurel-Beltsville Hospital.

Tap Shoes Two was well off the lead, three-wide, when Delairio moved off the rail slightly and bumped A Joyful Charge. With that, A Joyful Charge angled out into the path of Tap Shoes Two, Raney bailing out as his mount stumbled.

After winning three of 52 races at the latest Pimlico meeting, Raney had been gathering momentum at Laurel. Although used infrequently, he began the program with three victories from 13 mounts (23 percent), and had his finest day in Maryland Thursday with a winner and two second-place finishes. . . .

Profit Key led from the start to win the $171,600 Dwyer Stakes for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park. Rhythm, racing wide, was second.