-- Even before Hurricane Charley ranged up the East Coast and began to drop its drizzle on Pimlico Race Course, the $75,000 All Brandy Stakes for Maryland-bred fillies and mares had been taken off the track's beat-up turf course.
With the race moved to the muddy dirt track labeled "good," three of the seven horses entered scratched out of the race leaving slop-loving veteran mare True Sensation to run down River Cruise in the upper stretch and gallop away to a 11/2-length victory.
While not a top race mare, 5-year-old True Sensation has had a successful career against Maryland-breds, winning three stakes races for trainer Hamilton Smith. She has now won six times in 29 lifetime starts, earning $288,622.
"She's been real good for us," Smith said of True Sensation, a daughter of obscure stallion Itaka. "She's by far the best horse that sire has produced."
"She's a big country mare," said admiring co-owner Randy Cohen, who, along with his brother, Albert, bred True Sensation at their Hickory Plains Farm in Frederick County.
"She's had some tough races, starting with the All Brandy last year when she absolutely got annihilated."
In this year's All Brandy, 2003 Maryland Million Oaks winner River Cruise opened up a four-length lead after six furlongs before True Sensation galloped up on her outside and rolled to victory.
The final time was a slow 1 minute 53.01 seconds, and River Cruise beat third-place finisher Grace Bay by an incredible 28 lengths.
True Sensation will be retired at the end of the year, Randy Cohen said, to replace her 20-year-old dam, True Norther, in the farm's broodmare band.
First, however, she has a date with the $100,000 Maryland Million Ladies on Oct. 9.
Racing Notes: It was a big day on the national racing scene for horses from the Fair Hill Training Center in Fair Hill, Md., as runners based there won two of the most prestigious turf stakes races in the country.
Kicken Kris, the 2003 Maryland-based horse of the year, benefited from the disqualification of first-place finisher Powerscourt to win the Grade I Arlington Million at Arlington Park outside of Chicago.
Powerscourt, a Grade I winner from Ireland, pulled clear in the stretch but veered inward sharply under the right-handed whip of jockey J.P. Spencer.
The horse forced German runner Epalo to momentarily lose stride and slam Kicken Kris into the inner rail.
Powerscourt crossed the finish line first in the 11/4-mile grass race in 2:00.08, but was placed fourth after a lengthy review of the race by the stewards.
Kicken Kris, trained at Fair Hill by Michael Matz and ridden by Kent Desormeaux, was elevated from second to first. . . .
Better Talk Now, who finished second to Kicken Kris in the Grade II Bowling Grand Handicap on July 17 at Belmont Park, rallied late in the stretch to win the Grade I $500,000 Sword Dancer Handicap at Saratoga.
Ridden by Maryland star Ramon Dominguez and trained by Graham Motion, Better Talk Now defeated Request for Parole and Balto Star, running the 11/2-mile race in 2:28.49.