Star jockey Jerry Bailey spent the entire day in the Laurel Park jockey's lounge, patiently waiting for a single ride aboard heavily favored To The Queen in the Grade III $100,000 Anne Arundel Stakes. Minutes after Philadelphia Park-based long shot Martha's Music crossed the finish line first, followed closely by two fillies at even longer odds, a beaten Bailey hastily headed back to gather his belongings and beat a path to Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
Some of the biggest names in thoroughbred racing -- jockeys Bailey and Shane Sellers, as well as trainers Bill Mott, Patrick Byrne, Todd Pletcher and Shug McGaughey -- made rare ventures into Maryland yesterday in hopes of getting a graded victory on the resumes of their 3-year-old fillies. Bailey, the leading rider in the country with more than $22.6 million in purse earnings in 2002, is just three victories shy of Mike Smith's record of 67 stakes victory in a year.
Despite four straight solid victories in New York and the gaudy Mott-Bailey connection, To The Queen didn't appear much more imposing than several of the local runners in the well-matched field of 11.
Martha's Music's trainer John Servis certainly didn't appear intimidated. "Nah, I wasn't worried about them," he said in the winner's circle after the race. His filly had won an off-the-turf stakes race at Laurel this summer by more than 10 lengths, and Servis pointed her toward the Anne Arundel for nearly five months.
Instead of the big-name horses, Martha's Music had to run down locals Pass The Virtue and Shop Till You Drop, who dueled head-to-head for more than a mile, well ahead of the rest of the field in the 11/8-mile race.
Unhurried early, Martha's Music began to move in earnest for jockey Stewart Elliott on the far turn, swinging wide around the field from fifth place and attacking the leaders. After a brief battle, she pulled away to win by three-quarters of a length in a good time of 1 minute 50.84 seconds.
To The Queen finished fourth, leaving Bailey not a lot to show for his time. "She really wasn't getting a good hold of the surface," he said. "She was doing a lot of moving around but not really going anywhere."
Racing Notes: Racing for the first time since selling for $1.5 million and a sixth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, champion filly Xtra Heat was upset by Dat You Miz Blue in the $81,650 Garland of Roses Handicap at Aqueduct.
Carrying high weight of 127 pounds and spotting the competition from 11 to 14 pounds each, Xtra Heat battled for the lead over the muddy track but couldn't withstand the charge of New York-bred Dat You Miz Blue, who won the six-furlong sprint by 21/4 lengths in a time of 1:10.10.
Xtra Heat, who has won 24 of 33 lifetime starts, finished second.
"She didn't handle the wet track," said trainer John Salzman, who continued to train Xtra Heat after the private sale to the Classic Star Stable. "The same thing happened at Chicago when she came back [sixth in the Oct. 26th Breeders' Cup Sprint]."