With a wall of horses in front of him and an energized P Day under him, apprentice jockey Ryan Fogelsonger knew he needed more than just the best runner to win the $75,000 Native Dancer Stakes. So with the finish line fast approaching, Fogelsonger yelled at the rider of Hay Getoutofmyway to get out of his way and shot through the gap to win by a head in a blanket four-horse finish yesterday at Laurel Park.
The likely winner of the Eclipse Award for top apprentice jockey in the country, Fogelsonger, 21, of Silver Spring, continues to find new ways to get horses to run for him. When he took over the mount on P Day last month, the old warrior looked battle-weary, having lost seven straight races in a nine-month stretch. Fogelsonger climbed aboard and immediately rode him into the winner's circle Dec. 28 in the Challedon Stakes.
Trainer Charlie Hadry Jr., handling the stable of his father, who continues to fight cancer, believed the 8-year-old P Day was ready to run right back and dropped him into the Native Dancer as a late $500 supplemental nominee.
"He's been doing really fantastic," Hadry Jr. said. "If I don't run in this race today, there's nothing for him for a couple months."
The race began with long shot Paynes Bay setting a moderate pace along the rail with jockey Mario Pino and his mount Hay Getoutofmyway gradually turning up the pressure from the outside.
As the field of seven reached the turn, Hay Getoutofmyway attempted to take over, while favored Daddy Cool, a winner of four straight, made his bid on the outside. When Pickupspeed joined the fray four wide, P Day and Full Brush found themselves trapped behind a wall of horses.
Hay Getoutofmyway drifted out in the stretch and when he began to drift back in Fogelsonger and Ramon Dominguez, on Full Brush, both let Pino know they were coming.
"We were screaming at him to go back out," Fogelsonger said. "We had to let him know we were there. It got a little tight, but both horses got clear, and P Day just dug in and gave it his all."
P Day won the 11/8-mile race in 1 minute 50.08 seconds and earned $45,000 for owner Adam Russo of Philadelphia. P Day has won $566,218 in a 46-race career, $460,842 of it at Laurel.
"He loves this racetrack," Fogelsonger said.
Racing Note: Shop Till You Drop, trained by John Fee at Bowie Training Center, finished fourth behind Zonk in the Grade III $100,000 The Affectionately Handicap at Aqueduct.