LAUREL, MD. 01-31-09---Mark Russell’s Russell Road improved his record to six wins in seven starts with a snappy performance in the $50,000 Dancing Count Stakes, today’s feature at Laurel Park. Russell Road, a West Virginia-bred son of Wheaton who was ridden by Travis Dunkelberger, was tested from the outset in this six furlong event for 3-year-olds.

The chestnut gelding broke alertly, then let Great Love with Eric Camacho slip inside of him to head the field down the backstretch and around the far turn. Russell Road engaged Great Love at the top of the lane and they battled the length of the stretch before edging clear to win by a length and a quarter in 1:09.79. St John’s Gospel finished third.

The winner paid $3.40 as the overwhelming choice in the field. As expected, morning line favorite Mr. Fantasy did not ship in from New York, opting for an allowance race at Aqueduct. Two longshots also did not run reducing the field to four.

“He just broke sharp. I could have gone to the lead if I wanted to. He settled and took a breather so I let him run how he wanted and he did the rest from there,” Dunkelberger said. “Eric (Camacho) pulled up and said ‘You better try to stay on that one’. We were really flying.”

Russell Road is trained by James W. Casey. He had raced exclusively at Charles Town, winning three restricted stakes, before taking his show on the road for the first time today.

“Today we had an opportunity to run against horses that had run at other tracks and he ran very well,” Casey said. “We are not going to rush him. We sent him to the farm for six weeks and he was only back in training for three weeks. I thought he might be a little short for this race but he met the challenge.”

Casey feels seven furlongs will be his star’s preferred distance. The win upped his career earnings to $232,530.