Ritchie Trail nips All Told by half-inch HORSE RACING


LAUREL -- Ritchie Trail and All Told milled about outside the winner's circle, their handlers awaiting word of which filly had won yesterday's Gay Matelda Stakes.

The pair hit the wire together in the $56,300 event at Laurel Race Course. After about seven minutes, the results finally were posted.

"Two!" shouted the crowd.

The No. 2 was Ritchie Trail, who had rallied along the rail and caught All Told in the frantic final yards. The photo-finish camera revealed a margin of about a half-inch.

Ritchie Trail trailed early in the race for 3-year-old fillies, then made her way through traffic before nailing All Told, who had edged clear in the early stretch.

"I had a little bit of trouble turning for home," said winning rider Donnie Miller, "but the horse on the inside stopped and I got through."

The Gay Matelda was preceded by a $35,000 allowance, won by Fire Plug. The 8-year-old gelding will make his next start Feb. 16 ++ in the $200,000 General George Stakes at Laurel.

Fire Plug covered 6 1/2 furlongs in 1 minute, 15 3/5 seconds, one-fifth off the track record. He has won 27 of 49 starts, $652,915, and finished out of the money only four times.

NOTES: A 10-race card will be conducted tomorrow at Laurel; first post is 12:30 p.m. The program makes up for a January snow-out. . . . Andrea Seefeldt returns from a layoff of about six weeks when she rides Treasured in the eighth race today. . . . The first race allowing 5-year-old maidens to run since a new rule was invoked opens Tuesday's program. . . . Devil's Orchid, the likely favorite in the $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel on Feb. 16, is scheduled to be flown from California on Friday. . . . A new Delaware law permits its tracks to accept more out-of-state simulcasts, including races during its off-season and dark days. Management at Delaware Park is exploring its options.

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