Singing Rain led most of the way, and Ritchie Trail made a pulsating late run.
But Silver Tango won the race.
The 5-year-old mare, with Michael Luzzi on board, charged past Singing Rain at the sixteenth pole and held off a late run by Ritchie Trail to win the $60,000 Conniver Handicap at Laurel Race Course yesterday.
A combined attendance of 13,809 for Laurel and Pimlico was announced yesterday, the third highest of the fall and winter meet at Laurel. There were 9,696 at Laurel and 4,113 at Pimlico for the simulcast races.
The top two combined crowds came for the International (21,120) and the Breeders' Cup (17,148).
Silver Tango, a 5-2 choice, ran second behind Singing Rain most of the race before taking the lead in the stretch.
But she still had to withstand a strong stretch run by the 2-1 favorite, Ritchie Trail who finished three-quarters of a length back in second place.
Singing Rain weakened and had to settle for third place, one-half length behind Ritchie Trail.
Silver Tango covered the seven furlongs in 1:24 2/5 seconds. The victory pushed her earnings past $400,000.
"We figured there wouldn't be much of a pace," said Luzzi, who won his sixth stakes of the season. "She broke fast, relaxed and finished real well."
Silver Tango trainer Gary Capuano said: "We gave her almost two months off, and she worked real well coming into the race. Right now, we don't have any definite plans for her next start."
Edgar Prado, who rode Ritchie Trail, didn't seem too upset by the second-place finish.
"It's great to win, but second is good," he said. "She ran about the way she usually runs. You know, about seven or eight lengths off the leader, then she makes a late run. That's the way she goes at seven furlongs."
And what happened to Singing Ring?
"I went as slow as I could and had a lot of horse left when the other two horses went by," rider Joe Rocco said. "She ran as hard as she could, but just got out-run today."
Chip's Dancer wins again
Chip's Dancer ran his record to 4-0 in 1993 yesterday bstaging an overpowering stretch run to win by 3 3/4 lengths over Bounding Daisy in the $53,600 Private Terms Handicap at Laurel.
With Clarence "Jo Jo" Ladner aboard, the 3-year-old chestnut gelding covered the 1 1/16 mile in 1:44 2/5.
Chip's Dancer trainer Jerald Ferris said: "We figured he would stretch out and go long. He proved that today. He's a big horse and can be unruly in the paddock and at the starting gate. But he certainly has some ability."
The winner was running fifth and fourth most of the race before making the late charge past front-running Asset Impression, Bounding Daisy and Departing Cloud.
Hoover Handicap set today
Graded-stakes winners Majesty's Turn and Finder's Choice top a field of eight probable starters in today's $40,000 J. Edgar Hoover Handicap at Laurel.
In his most recent start, Majesty's Turn beat top sprinter Senor Speedy in the General George Stakes Feb. 15 at Laurel.
Formerly competing at claiming levels, Majesty's Turn has emerged as one of the top sprinters in the area. The Virginia-bred gelding, trained by Luigi Gino, has won more than $220,000.
Alberto Delgado will ride Majesty's Turn.
Finder's Choice returns to racing after a three-month layoff for today's 6-furlong Hoover Handicap for 3-year-olds and up.