Vinnie Blengs and the Capuano brothers, Dale and Gary, will occupy center stage at Laurel Park today when their horses shoot for the prize in the $50,000-added Davona Dale Handicap.
Originally, seven horses were entered in the 1 1/8 -mile stakes for fillies and mares, but trainer Billy Turner said last night that he will scratch Hold On My Heart.
That leaves a six-horse field, with the Blengs-trained Hadee Mae carrying highweight of 115 pounds.
"I never dreamed this filly would be top weight in a $50,000 stakes," Blengs said. "But she's capable and she can run all day."
The filly was purchased at the Timonium sales by Wayne Harrison of Rockville. "When I first saw her, I asked Wayne, 'Who picked out this horse? She looks like a giraffe,' " Blengs said.
But despite his assessment of the animal, she's won over $100,000 under his tutelage and is Saratoga-bound, with six other Blengs runners, including Another Legend and Putthepowdertoit, after today's stakes.
Hadee Mae is a leading candidate for North Carolina-bred Horse of the Year.
The Blengs runner and Gammy's Alden, who hasn't raced in nearly four months, are the only stakes winners in the Davona Dale field.
However, the actual favorite could be Cherokee Wonder, runner-up in numerous stakes but so far "only a bridesmaid and never a bride."
"One of these days, she's going to get there," said Gary Capuano, who trains the 4-year-old granddaughter of Preakness-winning Pleasant Colony. Her best effort so far, a second in the Grade III Next Move Handicap at Aqueduct, makes her the horse to beat.
Capuano's older brother, Dale, said he intends to start both of his horses, Bold And Gorgeous, a winner at Laurel a week ago, and Festive Star, who will receive Lasix for the second time.
Gary Capuano also has entered Jest Punching in tomorrow's $60,000 Mister Diz Stakes, but could scratch him and run him today in a $32,000 allowance race at one mile on the turf.
Despite recent rains, Laurel racing executive Lenny Hale said today's races are carded for the grass, although that could change by morning.
Arnold Heft's Ace's Orphan and Bob Meyerhoff's Sticks And Bricks will head the nine-horse Mister Diz lineup at six furlongs on the turf.
Nationally, the weekend's two richest stakes will be the $250,000 Coaching Club American Oaks today at Belmont Park, a race that drew Serena's Song, and the $200,000 Hollywood Oaks tomorrow at Hollywood Park.
The Queen's Plate, the first race in Canada's Triple Crown, will be run tomorrow at Woodbine Race Course near Toronto.