Lacie Slew rallied from next-to-last to win the $100,000 Maryland Racing Media Stakes, the Saturday feature at Laurel Park.
Sent to post as the second choice in the field of five fillies and mares, Lacie Slew carried Joe Rocco Jr. to a one-length victory in 1 minute, 50.98 seconds for the nine-furlong distance contested over the fast main track. Baltimore Belle, third choice in the wagering, finished a game second, and front-runner Pilot Point Lady held on to finish third. Odds-on favorite Acting Happy, from the powerful Rick Dutrow barn, pressed the action but gave way through the lane and finished fourth.
"I had so much horse when I wheeled her out she exploded for me," Rocco said. "There wasn't enough room, so we had to swing her out. I wanted to stay behind Dutrow's horse. I thought she was the one to beat, but she kind of fizzled out in front of me. My horse ran really well. It didn't matter that we had to swing out wide."
Rocco, the son of former Maryland mainstay Joe Rocco Sr., was a regular jockey in Maryland during much of his 13-year career but is riding at Gulfstream Park this winter. The 29-year-old ranks eighth in the standings at Gulfstream.
"I am really happy how my career has progressed," said Rocco, who won a career-best 138 races a year ago. "I am trying to get to the next level, and it looks like it is moving in the right direction. I am excited about the opportunity to break into higher-profile clientele, which will help me in the future."
Lacie Slew, who paid $5.20, has been wintering in Florida, racing one time and finishing third in December. Previously, the Peter Walder-trained daughter of Mineshaft had finished third in the Lady Secret Stakes at Monmouth Park and second in the Sightseek Stakes at Saratoga last summer. The 6-year-old is now 7-for-25 lifetime, with 15 on-the-board finishes and earnings of $252,142.
Before the race, the Maryland Racing Media Association honored Eighttofasttocatch as the 2011 Maryland-based Horse of the Year. Trained by Tim Keefe at Laurel Park, the son of Not For Love won five of 10 starts as a 5-year-old, including four stakes on his home track. He is expected to make his 2012 debut in the $200,000 General George Handicap (Grade 2) at Laurel on Feb. 20.
Nominations for the three races that highlight the Presidents Day weekend at Laurel were released by the Maryland Jockey Club's racing office Friday morning.
Winter SprintFest features two graded, seven-furlong contests: the $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap (G2) for fillies and mares on Saturday and the $200,000 General George Handicap (G2) for 3-year-olds and up on Feb. 20.
The Saturday card also includes the $100,000 John B. Campbell Handicap at nine furlongs.
Thirty-two runners are named to the General George, including 2011 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Animal Kingdom and 2011 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Caleb's Posse. Maryland Jockey Club stakes coordinator Coley Blind expects Wood Memorial (G1) winner Toby's Corner, graded-stakes winners Ravalo and Caixa Electronica, and Eighttofasttocatch to enter. Others under consideration are This Ones for Phil, Temecula Creek and Fourdangshore.
The Maryland Jockey Club will honor the connections of Rapid Redux on Saturday. Rapid Redux has won 22 consecutive races, including six at Laurel. The celebration will include a poster giveaway, a winners' circle presentation with the 6-year-old gelding in attendance and an autograph session with owner Robert Cole and trainer David Wells.
Saturday will feature more than $2,500 in giveaways and a free knit beanie cap to the first 3,000 paid fans.