Linda Shields had a license to ride, but no way to get started. Gender and elimination of the 10-pound apprentice allowance delayed her debut, she said, until her husband found a solution: He bought a horse.

Robert "Teddy" Shields turned in his jockey's license so his wife might ride, purchased a struggling claimer named Aloetta and watched in wonder as Linda pushed him to a scant victory over It's My Show in yesterday's opening race at Laurel. Aloetta, who paid $36.40, was the first mount ever for Linda Shields.

"Everybody told me, 'You're going to get tired,' " she said. "I don't know if I got tired -- I was too shocked to notice."

The sensation apparently hadn't subsided even after Shields, 24, found the winner's circle. She dismounted with her tack, then stood in frozen uncertainty over what to do next. Trainer Nancy Orlove Sydnor pointed to an enclosure, indicating the place a jockey weighs in.

"Oh," Shields said, eyebrows raised.

Shields has exercised horses four years, but nothing had so moved her as Aloetta. Her analysis of the 8 1/2 furlongs came in giddy fragments, for this was not what she expected.

"All I wanted was a horse to get on," she said. "I figured, even if I trail the field, I'd hold the license and then go out of town."

As Shields spoke on the way to the jockeys' room, Mary Wiley stood behind an outdoor kiosk with a bucket of water. Such reward awaits any first-time winner, but Shields spotted the oncoming Wiley and avoided the big pour -- at least temporarily. She caught a bucketful as she opened the door to the jockeys' room, and the shaving cream soon followed.

"I was driving Mary nuts in the {jockeys'} room before the race," Shields said. "It was like, what do I do? I know how to work horses, I know how to come out of the gate and I'm pretty safe. It was just a matter of going out and doing it."

At least one other person won't forget yesterday's program any time soon. An unidentified male at Laurel picked the only winning double-triple ticket, a feat that earned him $117,056. The after-tax sum of $93,645 was accepted in cash and a check.

Favorite Beaten

Dance With Gina outfinished heavily favored Brave Sir to win yesterday's $17,000 allowance feature by a half-length and give trainer Dale Capuano his second three-victory day since Sunday. In their previous triumphs Jan. 4, Dance With Gina had run 2.4 seconds slower than Bravest Sir, the equivalent of 12 lengths.

Ridden by Edgar Prado, Dance With Gina ($20.60) followed victorious stablemates Une Der Tri ($22) and Living End ($10.20).