LAUREL, MD. 02-14-09---Sam B. Pollock’s Royale Michele ran the biggest race of her career when she captured the $150,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap (GII) at Laurel Park Saturday afternoon.

Royale Michele won the seven furlong test by 1-3/4 lengths, but it was the performance of post time favorite Seventh Street, who reared at the start, only to regain her composure, mount a steady rally and finish a fast closing second, that had the central Maryland track buzzing.

The winner paid $22.20. The exacta came back $52.20 and the triple returned $298.40. Fascinatin’ Rhythm was third.

Geovany Garcia rode the winner, a 4-year-old daughter of Elusive Quality who won three straight at Mountaineer Park. When inclement weather in West Virginia began to hamper training, Matt Kintz shipped Royale Michele to Laurel 10 days before the Fritchie and continued her conditioning here.

“I was really happy with her work over here with the track. She settled in nice. I’m still real glad I came over early,” Kintz said. “Geovany rode her race as we discussed it. I thought the race might unfold that way and she ran a phenomenal race.”

“She’s a nice horse,” Garcia said. “I got behind three horses and just came on a little bit between the quarter pole and the wire and she gave me everything.”

This was the first stakes victory of Garcia’s career. His older brother Luis was supposed to ride Royale Michele but instead was aboard By the Light for trainer Richard Dutrow.

“It is unbelievable,” added Garcia.

Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Seventh Street came into the Fritchie off of three consecutive wins at Aqueduct and was bet down to 4-5 favoritism. After the horrific break the daughter of Street Cry was taken very wide by jockey Rajiv Maragh to the top of the stretch and passed all but the winner in a “remarkable” performance.

“It was a nightmare break,” Maragh said. “She was ready but just as the latch was beginning to be sprung she went up in the air on all four legs and it felt like we were 10 feet in the air. It was so remarkable for her to come in the race and do what she did. In my eyes we were 10 lengths the best. You have to be a special horse to even get back in the race. It would have been special to finish fifth in this race but to almost win it is unbelievable.”

Multiple Grade I winner Dream Rush finished last in her final race. The daughter of Wild Rush will be shipped to Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky to be bred to A.P. Indy.

“She broke real well and she sat right off the pace as we wanted but when it came time to run it was just nothing,” said jockey Jean-Luc Samyn.

Local star Access Fee, who was four-for-four at Laurel, broke poorly but dueled with pacesetter By the Light before fading to sixth.

“She didn’t make a run at them when I asked,” said Jose Caraballo, who rode the filly. “It just was not her day.”

Emma’s Valentine ($8.20) won today’s eighth race on Valentine’s day for trainer Scott Lake. The four-year-old held off Amie’s Legend and Silent Diva to take the $30,000 allowance race.

Laurel’s SprintFest weekend concludes Monday with a special nine-race card on Presidents’ day, headlined by the $150,000 General George Handicap (G II) with six sprinters vying for a black-type victory, including 4-5 favorite Fabulous Strike, a 10-time stakes winner. A victory would push the Todd Beattie trainee over $1 million in career earnings. First post is 12:35 p.m. with the General George scheduled for 4 p.m.


LAUREL, MD. 02-14-09---Fitzhugh LLC’s Richard’s Kid launched a furious late bid to win the $50,000 John B. Campbell Handicap, the co-feature on Saturday at Laurel Park.

Scoring her first stakes win, apprentice Jenna Joubert was in the irons aboard the four-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid. Richard Small trains Richard’s Kid, who won three of his last four at the allowance level.

The Campbell appeared to come down to a stretch battle between post time favorite Bullsbay and frontrunner PV Lightening, but Richard Kid’s rallied from nineteen lengths out of it after a half-mile to their spoil the party and win by a length in 1:50.01. He paid $23.80 and topped a $77.20 exacta and $412.80 triple.

“The horse is fabulous,” said the 24-year-old rider. “He’s an amazing horse, to be that far back and come like that, it’s great. When I first got on him people said, ‘That’s a stakes horse, Jenna’ and he got that for me. He is a horse that you completely have to let him do his own thing. Wherever he wants to sit is how he does it. It was a great feeling. To have a stakes win as a bug is pretty good. It was exciting.”

“This is a lovely horse,” Small said. “Of course it’s especially nice for us because we had his mother and father and grandfather, a long string of them and to get one like this after all this time is pretty neat. This is a terrific win. It is so hard to stay with an apprentice (in a stakes race) but in another way she understands the horse so well. I have always thought that was more important than getting the leading rider. She fits the horse like a glove. I was looking forward to this race for a long time because this is the first time he has gone this far and he can go farther than this. This is a pretty nice horse.”

Small also won the Campbell with Festive Mood (1976) and Broad Brush (1987) when it was a graded stakes race.