The numbers at Laurel Race Course are downright depressing these days. Attendance. Handle. Horse population. Winning times. You name it.
The lone exception is trainer Graham Motion, the former assistant to Hall of Famer Bernie Bond, who died last February at age 75.
Motion, 29, notched his 11th win of the meeting yesterday with Rasputin, a 2-year-old maiden filly. She rolled to a 15-length rout, a victory that almost symbolizes Motion's hot streak that includes Saturday's Walter Haight Handicap with Gala Spinaway.
It wasn't always easy for Motion, who took over Bond's stable and immediately lost the support of many of Bond's owners. He won just one of 22 races at Pimlico's spring meeting.
But times are changing. Now, as always, Motion depends on long-time Bond supporters Skip and Gertrude Leviton, who own Gala Spinaway. But yesterday's win came for Lazy Lane Farm, one of a handful of new interests for Motion's stable.
"Being behind a guy like Bernie Bond isn't easy," said jockey Larry Reynolds, who has ridden six Motion winners this meet, including Rasputin. "I guess you can say he had a good teacher, but it also put some pressure on him. All people are going to do some things differently from others. He's a good horseman in his own right, and now it's starting to show."
Motion's winning percentage is impressive. He's won with 11 of 29 starters (38 percent).
Early post time
As usual, Laurel will present a Thanksgiving Day card with a 10:30 a.m. post time. Patrons will receive a free holiday pie.
Simulcast races for commingled betting will be shown from Aqueduct (11 a.m. post), Calder (2 p.m. post) and Hollywood Park (2 p.m. post).
Stakes winners Cormorant's Flight and Bezelle will challenge in the $60,000 Straight Deal Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and mares. Bezelle recently ran third against colts and mares in the Grade III Laurel Dash.
There is no racing today at Rosecroft.
Yesterday's card attracted only 6,177 spectators to Laurel and the state's simulcasting sites, continuing a poor draw since the track introduced Wednesday racing this month instead of Sunday racing. Only 3,284 fans attended the races at Laurel. By comparison, average Sunday attendance figures had been more than 9,000.
Dec. 22 will likely be the final Wednesday of racing at Laurel.
The track will return to a normal racing schedule (dark Mondays and Wednesdays) after Christmas.