The stretch run of the Challedon Stakes turned into a family get-together, as the Anthony Dutrow-trained Nawmon ran down brother Richard's entry, Romano Gucci, over the last 100 yards to win the $50,000 race yesterday at Laurel Park.
Nawmon and Romano Gucci were trained by the brothers' father, the Maryland racing stalwart Dick Dutrow, until his death from cancer this year.
Responsibility for their father's horses was spread among the sons. Nawmon's reins were handed to Anthony, who runs a stable at Laurel Park and has the highest winning percentage of Maryland trainers. Romano Gucci, meantime, was shipped to Richard's operation at Aqueduct.
Larry Brafman, Nawmon's owner and a longtime friend of the elder Dutrow, relished the brothers' reunion, particularly the final furlong.
"The father always did a wonderful job with my horses, and the transition from father to son has been seamless," Brafman said in the winner's circle. "So it was nice to see a Dutrow/Dutrow finish here today. I'm just glad my horse came out on top."
The Challedon Stakes capped a card with four stakes races. In the $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship, a 1 1/8-mile trip restricted to 2-year-old state-breds, Gin Talking remained undefeated--though just barely--when she overtook stablemate Case of the Blues mere strides before the finish.
The daughter of Allen's Prospect, saddled by Hamilton Smith, has won all four of her starts, including three stakes, and has posted earnings of $165,250. Smith also trains Case of the Blues, who took a similar beating from Gin Talking in the Maryland Million Lassie, a stake held in October.
A corresponding race for the young boys, the $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Championship, went to Crafty Celt. The Dumbarton Farms entry galloped to a five-length romp over a slow field. Jockey Rick Wilson said Crafty Colt's youth caused problems throughout the race.
"He almost took me out of the saddle," Wilson said of his mount. "He was definitely tough to control through the first turn. I wasn't going to go to the lead, but he wanted to run off. He would have opened up to 10 lengths if I would have let him."
Crafty Celt finished in 1 minute 52 3/5 seconds, a full five seconds off the track record.
In the $50,000 Squan Song Stakes, Northern Mist, a homebred long shot sporting a nasal strip, put on a closing kick that left others in the seven-furlong race for fillies and mares wheezing. Rhoda Elaine finished a neck ahead of 6-year-old Rhoda Elaine.
"I've used the nasal strip myself before when I had a sinus condition," Northern Mist's trainer, Ron Alfano, said, "and it seem to work. Every little bit helps with horses."