After the fog and snow departed Laurel yesterday, five 2-year-olds bowed to Fire in Ice. The young colt took the lead and repulsed four separate challenges in winning the $54,325 Inner Harbor Stakes by more than a length over Pretty Amusing.
Breaking from the outside, Fire in Ice had to get past Venom for the backstretch lead. He was a length and a half in front near the far turn when Tammany split two horses and challenged along the rail, a momentary conflict as Fire in Ice burst ahead again.
Well into the turn, Fortunate Lance pulled within a length of Fire in Ice while Pretty Amusing challenged three-wide. Both had the leader well-sighted, but Fortunate Lance grew weary late and Pretty Amusing failed to make a serious run at the leader, who held firm under Marco Castaneda's right-handed offerings.
The 9-5 cofavorite with Fortunate Lance, Fire in Ice was clocked in 1:52 3/5 for nine furlongs. The Icecapade colt, a $100,000 yearling, had been beaten badly in two recent graded stakes races in New York, prompting trainer Wayne Lukas to look to the Inner Harbor. A Kentucky-bred, Fire in Ice has won four of nine starts and $165,095.
Mike Rowland made the most of his only mount yesterday, driving the slighted Miroslavs Bell to a third-race victory. The 3-year-old filly showed new quickness following six dreary starts of late and paid $127.20 to win. Rowland's only other winner here, Red Nuggat, paid $79.20.
Rowland, 28, said he hopes to become rooted at Laurel after winning all four riding titles this year at Thistledown, near Cleveland. "That was tough to give up," he said, "but I felt like it was time to move on to bigger and better things. The money's good here." He's ridden more than 225 winners this year.
Before the race, trainer John Lenzini said he was considering whether to send Miroslavs Bell to less-challenging Penn National, but the 4 1/2-length victory may cause him to reassess.No. 17 for 'Gigalo'
Jilsie's Gigalo withstood a foul claim Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs and won his 17th race of the year. The 6-year-old gelding, owned and trained by Linda Krueger, has had more single-season victories than any thoroughbred but Citation, who won 19 without a loss in his Triple Crown year of 1948. . . .
Laurel's races will be replayed each morning on Home Team Sports beginning Wednesday, and the cable station also will air a weekly show that includes track features and racing news. Both are 30-minute programs.
The daily show, scheduled weekdays at 11:30 a.m. and weekends at 9 a.m., will be called "Post Time From Laurel" and hosted by track marketing co-ordinator Kim Goodwin. On mornings following dark days, previously shown races will be replayed.
The weekly show, "Maryland Thoroughbred Action," will be hosted by track handicapper Doug Vair and broadcast Wednesdays between 10 and 11:30 p.m. beginning Jan. 9. . . .
The stewards suspended trainer Grover "Bud" Delp 15 days, starting Wednesday, after Natacular tested positive for a metabolite of the drug promazine following her second-place finish at Laurel Dec. 7.