Iceycindy found herself on uncertain footing yesterday and didn't miss a step. In her first turf race, she shot to the lead and controlled the Very Subtle Breeders' Cup Handicap at Laurel for her fourth consecutive victory.
The $31,920 winner's share was well-earned, for Iceycindy had to outrun the persistent Local Thriller -- one of Maryland's top mares -- which she accomplished by 1 1/4 lengths. She led the 9-5 favorite by two or more lengths through most of the stretch before finishing the six furlongs in 1:10 on a firm course.
Explosive Lena had a firm grasp on third but never really threatened the top two. She crossed the wire four lengths after Iceycindy.
Trainer Vinnie Blengs said he wasn't sure how Iceycindy would conform to turf after seven dirt races. He knew she had the blood (by Northrop, a son of Northern Dancer) and the inclination (a fast five-furlong workout on grass); she made the rest look easy.
From Post 3 she surged to a 1 1/2-length lead under 1989 apprentice champion Mike Luzzi. "She was skipping along real easy," Luzzi said, the filly running the first quarter-mile in 23 1/5 seconds.
Two-thirds into the race, Miss Spectacular and Local Thriller pulled to a length of the front runner on the outside, but that was as close as they came to the lead. Iceycindy spurted ahead into the stretch. Although Local Thriller slipped free from Miss Spectacular, she couldn't cut into the lead until the outcome was sealed.
At 110, the winner carried five fewer pounds than high-weighted Local Thriller.
Iceycindy's four-race winning streak follows an inauspicious Maryland debut in late April, when she stumbled leaving the gate and displaced jockey Omar Klinger. She was the heavy favorite that day despite having been off a year.
Yesterday's victory was the 10th this meeting for Blengs, who took sole custody of third behind perennial leader King Leatherbury and newcomer Ben Perkins Jr. The meet ends Tuesday. Ten Keys to a Million
Ten Keys, the latest Maryland-bred millionaire, is working toward the Arlington Million on Sept. 2, according to trainer Mike Pino. Pino said his turf star might use next month's Longfellow Handicap at Monmouth Park to prepare for the million-dollar race. . . .
Maryland-based Ismelda won the Poquessing Handicap at Philadelphia Park Saturday, running 1 1/16 miles in 1:41 4/5. Was the track fast? Two races earlier, former Marylander Safe On Second -- now 8 years old and a $5,000 claimer -- covered six furlongs in 1:10 1/5. Safe On Second is a half-brother to sprint champion Safely Kept.