Thursday, February 19, 2009


LAUREL, MD. 02-19-09---Hello Poochi Pooh holds a big advantage as the only sprinter in Saturday’s $50,000 Maryland Racing Media Handicap. The 4-year-old is the 6-5 favorite to beat four other fillies and mares in the nine furlong test at Laurel Park.

Hello Poochi Pooh, who campaigned in Florida last year, has made two visually impressive starts at Laurel, finishing a strong second in an entry level allowance in late December and storming to a 9-1/2 length victory under the same conditions three weeks later.

“We got her after her last start at Calder. We bought her privately,” said owner-trainer John Alecci. “Once she got here she seemed to turn it on in the cold weather. She’s never gone a mile and an eighth, but the way she’s been running for us we thought we’d give it a shot.”

Erick Rodriguez will ride the filly for the first time.

A change of training tactics led to All Smiles’ (5-2) upset victory in the Nellie Morse Stakes on January 24. Asked to stay closer to the pace, Dale Beckner won a hard fought victory aboard the daughter of Awesome Again for trainer Frannie Campitelli. She’s posted two solid workouts since that start and has been in the money 11 times in 14 starts at Laurel.

Clara’s Song (5-1) has won three-of-10 at Laurel, including an allowance score in her 4-year-old debut on January 7. Luis Garcia rides for trainer Carlos Garcia.

Multiple stakes winner For Kisses (6-1) turned in a disappointing fifth as the odds-on favorite in the Nellie Morse. The daughter of Not For Love has won seven times at Laurel and was third in the Grade II Barbara Fritchie Handicap a year ago. Mario Pino has the mount for trainer Dickie Small.

Peachy Kiss (6-1), claimed into the Scott Lake barn last spring, is a late closer who rallied from far back to finish third (behind Clara’s Song) and then win against optional/claimers in her two starts this year. Jennifer Stisted rides.


New England regulars John Rigattieri and Dyn Panell, who have been wintering in Maryland for the last six years, had a perfect day at Laurel Park, teaming up to win all three races they entered this afternoon. Trainer Rigattieri gave a leg up to Panell to ride Hold Annex ($5.20-fourth), Tipsy Tonya ($10-fifth) and Balanced Attack ($14.40-seventh).

Rigattieri ranks second in the trainer standings with 16 victories, eight fewer than Scott Lake. Panell moved into a fifth place tie in the rider standings with 15 trips to the winners’ circle.

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