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Laurel to honor 3 retired stakes stars


LAUREL -- Three of Maryland's most consistent stakes performers, all geldings and all recently retired, will be honored at Laurel Race Course on Sunday.

Due North, Silano and Fire Plug, who collectively earned nearly $2.2 million, will parade through the stretch between races and then each will visit the winner's circle one final time.

The ceremony will be part of Laurel's Winter Sprintfest, which starts Saturday with the Barbara Fritchie Handicap and ends Monday with the General George Stakes.

Due North, 10, started 106 times, won 18 races and $841,388. The picturesque gray horse fractured his hind leg in a freak stall accident at Laurel on Dec. 23.

"He was operated on Dec. 30 and had three screws put in his hind leg," said his trainer, Katy Voss. Since the operation, Due North has been at The Orebanks, the Baltimore County farm owned by Voss' father, John Merryman.

Due North will be given to Voss' sister, Lizzie Hendricks, who lives in Unionville, Pa., and will be used as a hunter.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see him run in the Maryland Hunt Cup one day," Voss said.

Silano, 8, helped put Maryland's Phil Capuano family on the map. The family-owned gelding was recently retired "because he had an ankle that was bothering him, and it was just time to stop," said his trainer, Dale Capuano.

The horse started 67 times, won 20 races and earned $693,524. The horse is being unwound at Wyemoor Farm, owned by Louis Capuano, on Kent Island, and will be shipped in for Sunday's ceremony.

Fire Plug, 9, is one of the East Coast's grittiest sprinters. He won 28 races from 54 starts and earned $705,175. He won his last start at Laurel, but trainer Bob Camac said, the horse had had problems for a long time.

"He always had some problems. His legs are crooked, and I didn't want to put any more pressure on him. I wanted to see him go out a winner."

Fire Plug, still stabled at Laurel, will be retired at owner Arthur Appleton's Bridlewood Farm in Ocala, Fla.

NOTES: Wide Country, ridden by Santos Chavez, worked six furlongs in 1 minute 13 4/5 seconds yesterday at Laurel. "The track was dull and kind of powdery," said her trainer, Bob Camac. "So, I was pleased with the move." Camac added that he is still concerned about giving 7 pounds to Wood So and has not yet decided if he'll run Wide Country on Saturday in the Barbara Fritchie Handicap . . . Dame Avie, a 7-year-old sister to $366,835 stakes winner Harriman, topped the Fasig-Tipton Winter Mixed Sale Sunday night at Timonium, bringing $31,000. Consigned by the late Avie Walkie, the mare, in foal to Carnivalay, was purchased by Roger Schipke, CEO of Ryland Homes. A total of 133 horses were sold, averaging $3,508, down slightly from a year ago. Mason Grasty, sales director, said that quality animals sold well. "I was pleased with the size of the crowd and the activity of the bidding," Grasty said. "We ran out of mares before we ran out of money."

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