Fappaburst wins Fritchie by 1 1/2


LAUREL -- After Fappaburst notched her richest victory, in the $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Race Course yesterday, jockey Angel Cordero took his patented leap out of the saddle, then calmly explained the hows and whys of the 1 1/2 -length triumph.

With a half-mile remaining, Cordero said Fappaburst had a bit of traffic trouble, but "after I got her clear on the outside, she had no problems from there."

The New York-based filly, second choice in a field of 10 fillies and mares, had moved up steadily in the seven-furlong Fritchie -- a Grade III race that led off Laurel's Winter SprintFest -- before surging past 8-5 favorite Devil's Orchid in the early stretch.

"I was very confident coming in," said Cordero, a 48-year-old Hall of Famer who was riding Fappaburst for the first time. "The trainer [P.G. Johnson] said she had been training well, and I could tell she was peaking."

Johnson, speaking afterward from his Belmont Park base, said he didn't travel to Laurel because "I usually don't travel to out-of-town races."

Fappaburst, a 4-year-old, was racing on the bleeder medication Lasix for the first time, but Johnson, one of New York's top trainers, discounted its significance. He said her final workout before the race was the key to her strong effort.

"The last work for this filly set her up perfectly," he said. "She went in 13 and change [1 minute, 13 3/5 seconds] on the Belmont training track Sunday. If it had been too wet or snowy, I might not have gotten the work into her and she wouldn't have run."

Johnson said Cordero had been scheduled to ride Fappaburst in her most recent race, an allowance victory at Aqueduct Race Track Jan. 25. "But Angel fell off a horse two races before and separated his shoulder," he said. "I told him it was still his mount for the Fritchie because that wasn't his fault."

Cordero was away only 10 days with the injury.

In two of the past three Fritchies, a daughter of the sire Fappiano, now deceased, has won. Two years ago, Tappiano romped to victory in stakes- and track-record time (1:21 2/5). Fappiano gained his greatest fame as a sire last year with Unbridled, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup Classic.

The $120,000 winner's share boosted Fappaburst's earnings to $295,088 for owner Susan Kaskel, who was not present, either. In the winner's circle ceremony, Cordero was joined only by assistant trainer Heriberto Cedeno.

Fappaburst has won six of 12 career starts, with the Fritchie marking her second stakes triumph. She paid $7.80 to win after finishing in 1:23 1/5.

Hero's Hurrah was the early leader, as Devil's Orchid rated just outside her. Meanwhile, Cordero said, Fappaburst "had come away a little slowly, then got to running outside. I had a chance to move her inside and that's what I did. There was another horse making things tight on me, but I got out of that pretty quick."

In the turn, Fappaburst angled outside, drew even with Devil's Orchid with a quarter-mile remaining, then edged away.

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