The fillies Oh Summer and Norstep are quickly becoming the heavyweight boxers of horse racing.
Each time they run in the same race, they end up clobbering each other.
That's what happened yesterday in the stretch of the $60,000 Politely Stakes at Laurel Park.
Oh Summer was the aggressor, initiating a good, hard bump into Norstep as she began a move to the lead along the rail.
Rather than shrink away, Norstep, said her jockey, Mark Johnston, "decided to fight back." Instead of being pushed around, Norstep shoved back and carried Oh Summer so wide that when Norstep did get her head in front and won the race, the stewards disqualified her.
Clearly, these are tough-minded females. Norstep threw her jockey, Gilbert Delgado, and broke his ankle a couple of weeks ago and then jumped a fence as she ran off into the Laurel backstretch before the Notches Traces Stakes.
Yesterday's victory was revenge of sorts for Oh Summer. In the )) fillies' first meeting nearly two months ago, the pair was involved in a similar shoving match and it was Oh Summer that was disqualified.
"I guess you take these wins anyway you can get them," said Jiggs Lancaster, the horse's owner. Lancaster is a veteran in the game, having campaigned champion sprinter Star De Naskra during the mid-1980s.
The Bowie horse breeder/attorney purchased Oh Summer for $11,000 as a weanling at the Timonium sales from her Baltimore County breeder, Donald Litz. He turned her over to his trainer, Dale Capuano. Edgar Prado has been the sole rider of Oh Summer and was on her again yesterday.
Litz has unflagging faith in the bloodlines of horses bred by Alfred Vanderbilt and an abiding affection for the former Vanderbilt property, Sagamore Farm, which he once managed, in Glyndon.
"This is my piece of the rock," Litz said, referring to Winter Display, dam of Oh Summer, whom he purchased from ' Vanderbilt as a yearling. Winter Display wasn't much of a runner, but she carries the bloodlines of many of Vanderbilt's best stakes performers such as Show Off, Look Ma, Native Dancer and Cold Comfort.
Litz quickly left Laurel yesterday after watching Oh Summer's performance. Winter Display is heavily in foal and was to due to give birth last night to a son or daughter of Red Ransom, leading freshman sire in the country.
Pimlico barns open Tuesday
Horses will be admitted into the barn area at Pimlico Race Course on Tuesday and the track will be open for training on Wednesday, Laurel/Pimlico vice president of racing Lenny Hale said yesterday.
Hale added that a large shipment of horses from the Dick Small stable that has been headquartered at the Fair Grounds race course in New Orleans over the winter will be among the first arrivals.
Among changes at the Pimlico spring meet will be less turf racing.
Despite its popularity with fans, Hale said that the grass course was overused last year. "We ran about 10 races a week on it, and will cut back to seven races a week this year," Hale said. The turf season usually begins the last week in April. Pimlico opens for live racing on April 4.
Fisher rites tomorrow
Funeral services for longtime racing official Bill Fisher, a native of Laurel who died late last week from congestive heart failure and pneumonia, will be held tomorrow at 1 p.m. at the Donaldson funeral establishment at 313 Talbott Ave., Laurel.
Viewings will be held today at 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 Fisher, 80, served as vice president and general manager of Hialeah Race Course in Miami before retiring several years ago. He had also been general manager at Garden State Park and Freehold Raceway in New Jersey. At one time, Fisher served as a placing and patrol judge at most of Maryland's thoroughbred tracks.
Fisher's mother, Molly, was the longtime postmistress of the town of Laurel, and his aunt, known as "Ma Fisher," ran a boarding house in Laurel that housed many prominent trainers.
Not many thoroughbreds make the transition from racehorse to field hunter in three days. But when the Wicomico Hounds meet at Wye Island on the Eastern Shore today, Centreville veterinarian Judy Tubman will be riding Reciprocate, the Masked Dancer gelding that finished seventh in the fifth race at Laurel on Thursday. Trainer Brooke Boyer decided that since the horse is so slow, he might as well have an alternative use. Reciprocate is expected to race next at the Howard County and Marlborough point-to-point races. . . . Retired Maryland stakes-winner Root Boy, who was severely injured in a breakdown in the 1993 Maryland Million Classic, has sired his first foal. The colt was born Wednesday night at Richard Blue's Stevenson farm and is owned by David Berryman of Garrison.