LAUREL, MD. 11-15-08--- William Harris’ Sweet Goodbye led from start to finish in the $50,000 Northern Dancer Stakes.

Two fillies and two geldings lined up at the start of the 1-1/8th mile test over the slopping going and the fillies finished one-two. Fascinatin’ Rhythm chased Sweet Goodbye every step of the way and galloped home a winner by 4-3/4 lengths.

The winner, a bay daughter of Louis Quatorze trained by Chris Grove and ridden by J.D. Acosta, paid $3.20. This was her fifth straight victory in six starts and her second straight stakes win. She won the Maryland Million Oaks last out.

“She’s really fast leaving the gate,” Acosta said. “I really wanted to hold her a little bit but she likes to fight when you hold her. Down the backside, I felt my saddle starting to slip so I decided not to fight with her. When I turned for home and saw they were about three lengths behind I knew it was time to go. I asked her and she really took off.”

“Her best work going into the Maryland Million was in the slop and I knew this wasn’t going to be a problem, in fact I figured she’s relish it,” said Grove. “We’re trying to plan for bigger and better events so we were hoping for as much competition as possible.”

Grove is best known for conditioning top female runners Silmaril and Lexi Star, who combined for 17 stakes victories and more than $1.6 million in earnings before retiring this year. Earlier this week he compared Sweet Goodbye to his other star mares.

“She does everything very easy, like Silmaril,” added Grove. “She wasn’t even blowing when she came back. She had more in the tank. There is just something about her that makes her special. She has Lexi’s size and Silmaril’s heart.”

Three horses were scratched out of the Northern Dancer because of Friday’s announcement by the Maryland Jockey Club that until further notice no horses will be allowed to ship into Laurel Park to race except those from the Bowie Training Center after a horse tested positive for equine herpesvirus earlier in the week.

Morning line favorite Fujita, a Monmouth Park-based colt who finished third in the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs, Delaware Park-based Knight In Armour and Sarto, who trains at the Fair Hill Training Center, were affected. Trainer Butch Cave elected to run Bowie-based Sumacha’hot in an allowance race here yesterday afternoon.