"Miss Dean" did it again.
Yesterday Dean Gaudet, the reticent horsewoman who is the longtime trainer of the large Israel Cohen racing stable, sent out an underdog in a graded sprint at Laurel Race Course and beat the out-of-town favorites.
The victory this time came with Mixed Appeal in the $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap, following the same sort of upset by Cohen's Montbrook last summer in the $300,000 Frank De Francis Dash.
The 6-year-old mare, sent off at 11.70-1 odds along with her stablemate Mighty Rose, sped to the front under Austreberto Salazar, who was riding the horse for the first time. Mixed Appeal led the entire seven furlongs, beating another Maryland-based long shot, Known As Nancy, by 2 3/4 lengths. The Damon Dilodovico-trained filly, longest price in the 12-horse field at 48-1 odds, circled the field, but was no match for the winner.
New York invader Daimon, favored at 8-5 odds, failed to show her customary speed, finishing a dull fifth.
Winka, from the Charlie Hadry barn, was third and completed the first sweep of the top three finishes in the Barbara Fritchie for Maryland-based trainers since Bold Brat (Carlos Gracia, trainer), Spot Two (Donald Bradley) and Satin Dancer (Jack Ludwig) ran 1-2-3 in 1978.
The Mixed Appeal-Known As Nancy exacta paid $867.60 and the all-Maryland Triple returned $8,134.60, ranking as one of the highest Barbara Fritchie exotic payoffs.
As usual neither Cohen nor Gaudet were in the winner's circle after the race. Gaudet's assistant, Gene Leach, said the strategy was for front-runner Mixed Appeal "to open the door. And then Rosie [Mighty Rose, a known closer] was to shut it."
Instead, Mixed Appeal, who Leach admitted has been "running out of gas" lately in her races, kept the door open. She ran the best race of her four-year career, never tiring after setting fast fractions of 45 4/5 seconds for the first four furlongs and six furlongs in 1 minute, 10 1/5 seconds. She completed the seven-eighths of a mile distance in a respectable 1:23 1/5. Her entry-mate, Mighty Rose, was outrun and finished ninth.
Mixed Appeal has always been a useful mare, one of a handful of horses on the local circuit to win three stakes races in 1993. But those victories came in such non-graded races as the Grecian Flight, Primonetta and Jacob France handicaps.
She is usually ridden by Clarence "Jo Jo" Ladner, but Leach said yesterday that Ladner couldn't make the weight of 111 pounds. Instead, Ladner rode Sentimentaldiamond for trainer Donald Barr, and finished eighth.
Leach called Salazar in the jockeys' room last Thursday and asked him to ride the horse. He was also named on Known As Nancy, who as recently as last December, ran for an $8,500 claiming tag.
Leach praised the 22-year-old jockey for getting the old mare to relax.
Salazar said he "got to the front easy. She just kept going and I never looked back."
He was pressed for awhile by Tenacious Tiffany, the Florida invader who was made the 4-1 second choice. Her jockey, Rick Wilson, said "she broke well from the gate. And she was almost dragging me down the backstretch. Then, nothing. I started clucking to her, but she just didn't have it today."
Her fourth-place finish started a disappointing day for her trainer, Jimmy Croll. His other stakes starter, Holy Bull, finished last VTC yesterday as favorite in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Earlier in the Laurel card, Wilson was dumped in the Bishop's Ring Stakes when his mount, Talone, stumbled coming out of the gate. Wilson was not hurt, but Talone made an aborted effort to jump the inside rail before being caught by an outrider.
The Fritchie victory is Salazar's richest career win and his first Maryland stakes triumph this year. Previously, his biggest stakes score came aboard Logan's Mist last summer in the Lady Baltimore Handicap.
Bowie-based horseman Dilodovico was as happy after the race as if Known As Nancy had won.
"I knew this mare was getting good," Dilodovico said. "Her [speed] figures showed she is on the way up and when I worked her last week, she went real good [a half mile in 47 seconds]." Dilodovico added that the $40,000 Known As Nancy earned yesterday exceeded her total previous winnings of $39,620 in 13 starts.
Mixed Appeal earned $120,000 yesterday and is the latest of the Cohen-owned, Gaudet-trained graded stakes winners that includes Speakerphone, who won the Federico Tesio Stakes in 1992 and Montbrook.
Mixed Appeal is a daughter of Mighty Appealing, Cohen's 1984 winner of the Laurel Futurity. Cohen recently spent $350,000 in the Florida 2-Year-Old-in-Training Sales to purchase a half brother to Montbrook and has about 40 horses in training at Laurel.
Business was brisk yesterday at the windows of Maryland's eight betting outlets. A total of $3,477,955 was wagered, including $1,673,191 on Laurel's 11-race live program.
No one hit the Double Triple pool, which now has a carry-over of $120,373.53.