About one minute before 4 p.m. yesterday, stewards at Laurel Park prepared to scratch Josephine Abercrombie's Hasten To Add from the $100,000 Laurel Turf Cup.
The reason? Jim Day, Canada's four-time leading trainer who had just shipped in the horse from Toronto, had forgotten to pay a $100 fee to obtain his Maryland trainer's license.
Just when racing commission personnel were about to lock their doors, Day popped in and paid the money.
About a half-hour later, Hasten To Add's timing was just as perfect. After slogging through nearly 1 1/2 miles of soft turf as much as 10 lengths off the pace, the lean, leggy gray horse erupted with a late burst of speed and defeated another closer, Penn Fifty Three, by 1 1/2 lengths.
It was Hasten To Add's first victory since March, but he had placed in four graded stakes, including the Grade I Rothmanns International in his last start. The bettors picked up on the select company he had been keeping and made him the 7-5 favorite over the speedy Maryland-bred, Warning Glance, the 5-2 second choice.
"He's such a tall horse that some jockeys don't feel comfortable on him and aren't that well attuned to him," Day said. Among his riders this year have been Pat Day, Mike Smith and Corey Nakatani. For the Laurel race, Day chose Churchill Downs-based jockey Eddie Martin Jr., who rode him when he won in New Orleans eight months ago.
Day said that Hasten To Add will now join Abercrombie's other 1995 stakes winner, Peaks and Valleys, who broke the bar of his heel during the Breeders' Cup Classic, at her Kentucky farm for some rest and relaxation.
"He should be ready to run by Keeneland next spring and we'll point him for the 1 1/2 -mile stakes," Day said.
Concern, Ameri Valay, Richie the Coach and Potomac View were scratched from the field after management decided to keep the stakes on the grass.
Because of the deep going, the final time of 2 minutes, 40 4/5 seconds was the second slowest in Turf Cup history when the stakes has been carded at 1 1/2 miles.
Count On Numbers defeated
In a duel that lasted for nearly the whole six furlongs, 9-1 long shot Ima Good Gamble upset 2-5 favorite Count On Numbers by a nose yesterday in the $37,125 Bimelech Stakes.
New York-based trainer John DeStefano Jr. gave credit to owners Pug and Susie Hart for picking out the Maryland race.
"They stand the stallion [Prospectors Gamble] and will be selling a lot of his offspring," DeStefano said. "This makes another stakes winner for the sire."
Baltazar beats amateurs
Led by Chuck Baltazar, three retired professional jockeys swept the first three places yesterday in Laurel's first Pro/Am Jockey Challenge.
The amateurs had to settle for fourth through seventh places with pro rider Phil Grove bringing up the rear on a 16-1 long shot.
Baltazar, 48, took over the lead on the Bud Delp-trained Cavallin at the top of the stretch and beat Vince Bracciale Jr. on favored Stone Lake by seven lengths. Gregg McCarron was third.