LAUREL -- Maryland Moon, who had never won a grass race, defeated five rivals on the turf yesterday to win the $54,750 Governor's Cup at Laurel Race Course.
The 3-year-old colt came from last place and exploded in the stretch drive to defeat 9-1 long shot Bay Capp by 1 1/2 lengths. Pacesetter Majesty's Turn finished third.
Heavy favorite Older But Smarter never could outrun Majesty's Turn for the lead. He faded in the stretch and finished last.
It was the first stakes win for Maryland Moon, but the second added-money victory this month for owner Sondra Bender, trainer Larry Murray and jockey Larry Reynolds.
Mrs. Bender's 2-year-old colt, Secret Odds, won the Rollicking -- Stakes at Laurel on Aug. 2 and competes this weekend in the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga.
"This colt [Maryland Moon] didn't show much as a 2-year-old," Murray said. "But I researched his family and found out that his sire, Al Mamoon, only won $20,000 as a 2- and 3-year-old. But after that he won over $1 million. I'd settle for half that with this horse."
Bender, and her husband, Howard, are co-owners with Dr. Robert Leonard of Glade Valley Farm, one of the state's largest thoroughbred breeding establishments, which is located near Frederick. They estimate that they own about 70 horses, some of them in partnership with Leonard.
"But like everyone else, we are trying to cut back," Mrs. Bender said. They purchased Foufa, the dam of Maryland Moon, at the Kentucky sales for $90,000 in foal to Al Mamoon, who stands in California.
Murray, formerly the farm manager at Glade Valley, has been training for the Benders for nearly four years. During that time the 39-year-old horseman has developed such stakes winners as King's Nest, Runaway Stream, Queen's Reckoning and Snow King, as well as his latest pair of stakes horses, Secret Odds and Maryland Moon.
Murray said Secret Odds worked "super" at Laurel yesterday (five-eighths of a mile in 1 minute, 1 second, getting the last eighth in 11 seconds). He will be ridden in the Hopeful by Richard Migliore.
NOTES: Larry Reynolds not only won the Governor's Cup yesterday, he rode Ragtime Dancing to victory in the 12th race, ** completing a $72.20 late Daily Double payoff. Reynolds starts a seven-day suspension Wednesday for allowing Ascot Lady to drift in through the stretch run in Friday's fifth race. Reynolds' suspension will end Sept. 1. . . . Edgar Prado will be in Kentucky today, riding Brilliant Brass in a stakes race.