Bob Camac pulled into town yesterday with his big horse for a showdown at Laurel.
One of New Jersey's leading trainers, Camac is sending some horses to Laurel for the winter, and he has Fire Plug armed for today's Maryland City Handicap. The 7-year-old will shoot for his 25th victory against some fast movers, among them Jeweler's Choice and Six Speed.
The field is so well-balanced that eight potential starters are separated by six pounds. Fire Plug carries most at 119; Jeweler's Choice, who has earned a race-high $211,553 this year in becoming a stakes-winner, was assigned 118. He's owned by Tom and Bob Manfuso, both Laurel executives, and George and Geoff Huguely.
Six Speed, a 3-year-old trained by Ben Perkins Jr., will try to beat older horses for the third straight time after victories at Belmont Park. And Smelly is scheduled to renew his comeback efforts, having raced once since a six-month layoff caused by injury.
Smelly was one of Maryland's best 3-year-olds this spring when he won the Federico Tesio Stakes by 10 lengths, but that was eight months and three starts ago. Owner Bob Watkins of College Park feared the colt might have hurt an ankle in his latest race at Philadelphia Park, but Smelly seemed to emerge without any real problems. He worked six furlongs in a rather bland 1:16 2/5 last week and followed that with a three-furlong move in :36 4/5.
The seven-furlong Maryland City has a purse of more than $50,000.
Notes: An autopsy confirmed that Mr. Nickerson died of a heart attack or cardiopulmonary rupture in the Breeders' Cup Sprint Oct. 27 at Belmont Park, the Daily Racing Form reported.