Martha's Music lives at the racetrack in Philadelphia, but she treats Laurel Park just like home. In each of her three visits to Maryland, the 4-year-old filly has won stakes races, including yesterday's easy score in the $50,000 Nellie Morse Stakes.
Pushing a half-mile time of 50.15 seconds, nearly two seconds slower than the maiden claimers ran in the first race on the card, Martha's Music put away fading leader Annatoga at the quarter pole and glided home under jockey Stewart Elliott to a four-length victory.
Martha's Music, a daughter of Sultry Song trained by John Servis, ran the 11/16-mile race for fillies and mares in 1 minute 45.56 seconds.
Hunka Hunka Lori Z and Pass The Virtue both ran uncharacteristically off the pace and never got involved, leaving a place for 51-1 long shot Mystic Notion to come in second.
"I knew I had plenty of horse," said Elliott, who looked over his right shoulder in the stretch and saw no opposition on the horizon. "She felt like she finished strong for me.
"Another horse would have to be really strong to have beaten me."
A crowd of 13,048 turned out at Laurel yesterday, drawn by the opportunity to cash a free voucher worth a minimum of $2.
Servis first shipped Martha's Music last July when she crushed three others fillies to win an off-the-turf Martha Washington Breeders' Cup Handicap by more than 10 lengths.
She finished off 2002 with a harder-fought victory in the Grade III Anne Arundel Stakes.
"As much as I hate to take her off this racetrack, I think we're going to take her up to New York and take a chance there," said Servis, with an eye on the $75,000 Rare Treat Handicap on Feb. 17 at Aqueduct.
Servis never thought for a moment about cutting Martha's Music back in distance for the Grade II $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap on Feb. 15 at Laurel; he's got an even faster horse, Zonk, preparing for that.
Racing Notes: Apprentice jockey Ryan Fogelsonger traveled with Laurel-based trainer Ben Feliciano Jr. up to New York and won the $75,000 Paumonok Handicap at Aqueduct aboard red-hot sprinter Crossing Point. A winner of four of his prior six starts with two seconds entering the race, the 6-year-old gelding tore through six furlongs in 1:09.80, setting up a possible run in the Grade II $200,000 General George Handicap on Feb. 17 at Laurel. . . .
Jockey Mark Johnston, 32, who announced recently he would take a break from race riding, found himself named to ride a horse named Classy Sheikh in a stakes race last night at Turf Paradise in Arizona. Johnston was visiting former Maryland rider Seth Martinez when he accepted the mount.