P.J. Higgins wins Woodlawn Stakes


It wasn't the most tidy race, with a stewards' inquiry and four objections immediately following the 28th running of the $75,000 Woodlawn Stakes at Pimlico yesterday.

But when the stewards had the bumps and cutoffs all sorted out, racing luck benefited P. J. Higgins, a 3-year-old gelding who may be headed for the Preakness.

Logroller, a 35-to-1 shot with Santos Chavez aboard, finished first in the 1 1/16-mile test on the grass, then was disqualified and placed third for impeding Raglan Road, who finished third and was placed second, just a few jumps from the finish line.

Raglan Road, ridden by Mark Johnston, was forced to check, and Johnston claimed foul after weighing in. The owner of Raglan Road, Paul E. Fitzpatrick, already had lodged an objection against P. J. Higgins and rider Edgar Prado. That was disallowed.

The inquiry sign was flashed quickly with Logroller involved. In addition, Prado claimed foul against Chavez and Logroller, and Robert Thibeau Jr., on favored Awad, filed an objection against Prado's horse.

They had brushed slightly coming through the stretch.

Mary Eppler, owner-trainer of P.J. Higgins, was awaiting the outcome of the Kentucky Derby before deciding where her horse will run next.

"The Preakness is a possibility," she said. "That is, if he comes out of this race OK. And I want to see what happens in the Derby."

P.J. Higgins won the Continental Mile on the turf last September at Monmouth but Eppler said the horse "is probably better on dirt."

He has won two straight after a winter layoff, taking a $15,000 allowance race at Garden State by four lengths 10 days before the Woodlawn.

Eppler said her horse "was bothered by Awad in the Young America last fall so this kind of evens things out."

Awad, bet to 9-5 odds, came with a rush to get fourth for trainer David Donk, a protege of Hall of Famer Woody Stephens.

Prado said he hit P.J. Higgins "left-handed and he came out a little bit. I don't know how much."

Logroller hadn't run since Nov. 7 when he finished ninth in the Damon Runyon at Aqueduct.

"He's been up on the farm in Monkton," said trainer Tom Voss. "I trained in the barn [indoor training track] and outside on the turf when the weather was good."

$912,448 wagered on Derby here

All Maryland outlets handled $912,448 on the Kentucky Derby yesterday, ensuring that the total intake for the day is bigger than last year.

A total of $2,762,359 was bet on Maryland racing yesterday at Pimlico, Laurel, Rosecroft, the off-track betting facility at the Cracked Claw and via commingling with other tracks. That plus the Derby handle pushed Maryland past the $3,555,605 taken in on Derby Day in 1992.

Still to be tabulated in the total handle is the money bet on the remainder of the Churchill Downs card, all of Hollywood Park and harness racing at Freehold.

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