Colonel Hill took the lead more than a furlong out and easily withstood a rally by Gala Spinaway to win the $42,975 Dancing Count Stakes by three lengths yesterday at Laurel.
The 13-10 favorite, Colonel Hill was outside through most of the six-furlong race but stayed close to front-running Well Well Well down the backstretch and around the turn. Ridden by Edgar Prado, he overpowered the leader not far into the stretch and finished in 1:10 3/5 for his second stakes victory in four tries.
Despite only a five-horse field, it wasn't the smoothest of trips for Gala Spinaway.
He too was close to Well Well Well on the turn when Gregg McCarron halted his momentum for an instant amid apparent pressure from outside horses. Gala Spinaway quickly regained stride, whereupon McCarron angled him away from the rail and wide into the lane. He finished stoutly but at no point threatened Colonel Hill.
McCarron lodged a foul against the winner, claiming Colonel Hill was responsible for the squeeze. "I got killed at the three-eighths pole," McCarron said. "It took me out of the race."
The stewards failed to concur and stayed the order of finish, which made owner-breeder Vic DiVivo $25,785 richer. A Triple Crown nominee trained by Howard Wolfendale, Colonel Hill raced with the anti-bleeding medication Lasix for the first time and likely will head for the Private Terms Stakes at Laurel March 3. . . .
Joe Rocco won with his first four mounts of the program and finished four for five, but his day could have been better. He was given a seven-day suspension for a careless ride Friday, and plans to pass the time vacationing with his family in Florida.