The horse that has come closest to defeating 3-year-old sensation Afternoon Deelites unexpectedly appeared in Maryland yesterday and created quite a stir among bettors from Las Vegas to Laurel.
Tyson's Revenge, a rangy bay colt that was sent to Laurel Park TC from his winter training headquarters in Columbia, S.C., was sent off the 2-5 favorite against a field of maidens in the fifth race.
Normally maiden races don't create a lot of excitement, but advance word from the Carolinas was that trainer Michael Dickinson has classic aspirations for the horse that his owners, Texas oilmen, Art and Jack Preston, had purchased in California last fall and had nominated to the Triple Crown.
However, Tyson's Revenge came up a bit short, nearly leading wire-to-wire but losing in the last jump by a head to Lucky Trend, the 6-1 second choice.
Still the effort was good enough to produce a $5,000 profit for an unnamed bettor who wagered $100,000 to show on the colt through a Las Vegas outlet. Tyson's Revenge paid $2.10 to place and show and created a $23,326.70 minus show pool at the track.
"Disappointed. Very disappointed. In myself and not the horse," was Dickinson's reaction. Dickinson had stayed in South Carolina, where he is wintering his horses at a 2,000-acre private training center, and his assistant, Joan Wakefield, accompanied Tyson's Revenge to Laurel. "Rick Wilson [the jockey] told me the track was loose and cuppy and this is a horse that needs a hard, fast track. But still, he came up short and that's my fault. He had a bruised foot for a while and I guess he wasn't quite as fit as I thought he was."
Dickinson said the horse "scoped clean" when checked for bleeding after the race and has been sent to the Fair Hill Training Center in Cecil County. "We'll assess the situation and go from there," Dickinson said.
Meanwhile, the Prestons' other good 3-year-old, Da Hoss, who won the Best Turn Stakes at Aqueduct last weekend, came out of that race in good shape, Dickinson said, and will start next in the Gotham Mile in New York on March 25.
The Prestons had purchased Tyson's Revenge, a Kentuckly-bred son of Trapp Mountain, from the Three Sisters Stable in early November after the horse lost by a neck to Afternoon Deelites at Santa Anita Park.
"That was before anyone knew how good Afternoon Deelites would turn out to be and that made it look like a smart buy," Dickinson said. Even though Tyson's Revenge lost yesterday, it was the horse's first start in nearly five months, his first start at Laurel and his first try around two turns at the 1 1/16-mile distance.
Goodwin wins first stakes
Nik Goodwin, the apprentice who arrived from California to ride at Laurel about a month ago, scored his first stakes victory yesterday when he guided Queen Letizia to a three-quarter-length upset in the $60,000 Conniver Handicap.
The 4-year-old filly had been claimed by King Leatherbury for $40,000 a couple of starts ago. "I figured then that I needed to win a Maryland-bred stakes to get out on her. I just didn't think it would come this soon," the trainer said. Leatherbury saddled half of the six starters in the race, but Queen Letizia was the least regarded of the trio. His other runners, Buffels and I Am Me R.G. finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Pacesetter Ask Me Out finished second. Smart n' Noble, the recent Barbara Fritchie Handicap winner and favorite, was third. "Maybe the Fritchie took more out of her than I thought," said jockey Mario Pino.
Bailes appeals disqualification
Trainer Rob Bailes has appealed the stewards' decision to disqualify his filly, Norstep, from first place on Saturday in the Politely Stakes to the Maryland Racing Commission. The appeal was filed yesterday, but the commission has yet to set a date when the claim will be heard. Norstep was disqualified in the $60,000 race after carrying runner-up Oh Summer wide near the wire. However, Oh Summer had bumped Norstep earlier in the stretch run.