Fire Plug has crooked feet and a record that stands out. The 8-year-old has shown there's a place for pigeon-toed thoroughbreds -- a high place -- and can re-emphasize it in the Northern Wolf Handicap today at Laurel.
The six-furlong race, named after the colt who set track records at Laurel and Pimlico last year before retiring to stud, is one of two stakes races on the program. Earlier, Forry Cow How is to meet Haymaker, Gala Spinaway and five other Maryland-breds in the $75,000 Goss L. Stryker Stakes.
Trainer Bob Camac was bothered by Fire Plug's turned-in forefeet before the horse made his debut five years ago, so he ferreted out a less-stressful race at Delaware Park and planned for the worst. Fire Plug won by 13 lengths, and Camac's amazement hasn't diminished much since.
In a sport bent on fluctuation, Fire Plug has been a marvel of dependability. He enters the $50,000 Northern Wolf with 26 wins in 47 starts -- mostly against high-caliber sprinters -- and has been third or better in all but four of his races. Fire Plug, who was bred at Arthur Appleton's Ocala, Fla., farm, could surpass $650,000 in winnings with victory today.
As Fire Plug has aged, he has eschewed raw quickness for a come-from-behind approach. Camac said he trains less speed into the gelding now for longevity's sake, and Fire Plug has adapted nicely. Still, Camac wonders how long the horse can defy his structural ills.
"I don't know how he's held up this long," Camac said. "We've tried to race him sparingly. In years when his ankles are good, that's when we go. But at this age, the next time we stop him will probably be the last."
Fire Plug will be asked to carry a race-high 120 pounds, Santos Chavez included, against a bunch that also features Star Touch, Flaming Emperor and Pulverizing. If Fire Plug can get through it with no further complications, Camac said, he might find himself in the $200,000 General George Stakes next month. Suspensions Announced
Howard Wolfendale, Carlos Garcia and Steward Mitchell will begin suspensions next week, the stewards announced yesterdy.
Wolfendale, Laurel's highest-percentage trainer this meet, and Garcia, fourth in the nation in stakes wins last year, each drew 15-day penalties. Wolfendale was sanctioned after Barbara's Last tested positive for the tranquilizer Promazine following a win Jan. 13, Garcia after his court appeal of a 1989 Butazolidin overage in La Paramour was defeated.
Garcia's suspension begins Monday, Wolfendale's Wednesday.
The Maryland Racing Commission recently penalized Mitchell 30 days, starting Monday, because of drug violations in three of his horses last year. . . .
Television crews have been at Laurel and Pimlico to film a segment of "CBS News Sunday Morning," scheduled to air next month. The report centers around the backstretch and Jim Ryan's efforts to provide drug and alcohol rehabilitation for its workers. . . .
Jockey Andrea Seefeldt, sidelined with a bruised kidney, said she'll probably be out three to four more weeks. . . . The New York Racing Association has given Saratoga six additional days this year for a 30-day meet. . . . Dayjur has been named Europe's champion thoroughbred of 1990. . . .
Mike Steele will resign Jan. 28 as national president of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, a position he's held since March 1987. An election for a replacement will take place later this month; the term expires in July.