BALTIMORE, AUG. 11 -- In what likely will be his last race before next month's prestigious Budweiser Maryland Classic, Master Speaker used a late surge today to win the $79,950 Damascus Handicap at Pimlico Race Course.

Master Speaker's victory, his third in seven starts this year, carried extra significance for trainer Buddy Raines, whose grandson, Michael Luzzi, rode the horse to a winning time of 1:48.

On a fast track, Master Speaker trailed for much of the five-horse race until he rallied past runner-up Silano and third-place finisher Notation down the backstretch of the 1 1/8-mile course. Silano -- ridden by the meeting's leading jockey, Edgar Prado -- also has been nominated for the Maryland Classic, which, with a purse of $200,000, is the richest race on the Sept. 9 Maryland Million day program.

"They weren't going too fast at the front," said Luzzi, last year's apprentice champion. "By the time I called on him, he gave me everything."

Throughout the race, the horses were tightly bunched, with Silano and Notation leading until Master Speaker ($6.40) made his surge. Overnight Hero, ridden by Greg Hutton, and Macau, whose rider (Vernon Bush) wasn't announced until just before the start, challenged only briefly.

Master Speaker took the winner's purse of $47,970. Silano, who had won two consecutive races -- including the $100,000 Jennings Handicap during the spring meeting, earned $15,990.

"This will set {Master Speaker} up for the Maryland Million," said Raines, who saddled 1962 Preakness winner Greek Money. "I probably won't run him back until then."

Master Speaker normally is ridden by leading female jockey Julie Krone, but Luzzi said he is hopeful he will be given a chance to ride the horse again. "He treats me just like any other {jockey}," Luzzi said of his grandfather. "But maybe now that I won with the horse here at Pimlico, they'll give me another shot."

Raines, however, said Krone likely will be the rider when Master Speaker runs in the Maryland Million. At Keeneland earlier this year, Master Speaker won the Grade III Ben Ali Stakes.

"Mike will be sitting right behind her if {Krone} can't come," Raines said. . . .

Thomas Turner rode two winners today -- Spoonavaly in the second race and Salisbury Sal in the sixth -- to give him seven victories in 13 racing days, good for a sixth-place tie in the standings with Alberto Delgado. Prado, who rode Rac 'N Jil to a victory in the fourth, leads with 23 victories.