The New Jersey Turnpike turned into a highway of winners yesterday.
Captive Miss, a Monmouth Park-based filly, shipped down from the New Jersey track and won the $59,150 Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
Pimlico-based Diamond Duo shipped up from Baltimore and won the Post-Deb Stakes at Monmouth Park.
Captive Miss, beaten only once in six grass starts, was the short-priced favorite in the Hilltop, and ran like it.
She swept by Logan's Mist in mid-stretch and beat her by three lengths, running the 1 1/16 miles on the grass in 1 minute, 41 2/5 seconds. She ran fast enough, under New Jersey rider Joe Bravo, to set a new stakes record, beating Valay Maid's old mark by 1 1/5 seconds.
Phil Serpe, the filly's trainer, said he spent most of the race tracking Favored Lady, whom he expected to be his toughest competition. But the Barclay Tagg-trained filly never fired, finishing fourth, a half length behind pace-setting Red Ice, who hung on well to be third.
Favored Lady beat Captive Miss in a previous start on the grass in Florida, although Serpe said his filly had a good excuse that day. "She fell on the pavement before the race, tied up [in her muscles] beforehand, and just wasn't right," Serpe said.
Serpe has big plans for Captive Miss, a Florida-bred daughter of Acaroid that he conditions for former trainer Zeke Manassian. Manassian gave up training three years ago and lives off the income derived from three bowling centers he owns in Massachusetts.
He purchased Captive Miss as a 2-year-old in the Florida sales for $29,000 "plus $1,700 in state sales tax," he said.
Serpe plans on starting Captive Miss next in the Nijana Stakes on Aug. 7 at Saratoga. "I had the choice [yesterday] of either shipping the filly to Arlington Park to run in the Pucker Up Stakes or here to Pimlico. This was a lot closer," he said.
Diamond Duo, meanwhile, provided Pimlico trainer Bill Donovan with a big day in New Jersey. Diamond Duo paid $23 to win at Pimlico, where the Post-Deb was simulcast. But at Monmouth, where Donovan is not as well-known, she returned $48.20.
Diamond Duo is owned by Baltimorean Harriet Finklestein and is a stablemate of Dash for Dotty, the Donovan-trained, Henry Rosenberg-owned gelding that finished ninth in the Preakness.