For about 40 minutes, the $140,000 Baltimore Breeders' Cup and three other races were in jeopardy of being postponed.
A monsoon-like storm hit Pimlico yesterday, accompanied by lightning and blinding rain, and the stewards delayed the start of the eighth race while the horses remained in the paddock.
But the weather abated and when the running resumed, Testafly was ready.
The 7-1 shot broke smartly from the outside post, then ran away to an eight-length score over the rallying favorite Hot Brush while capturing his third victory in the past four starts.
A former $14,500 claimer, Testafly is now a multiple stakes winner for trainer Dale Mills and the leader in the MATCH series for older horses going long.
"He gets better in mud. An off-track always moves him up 10 or 12 lengths," said Mills of the Deputed Testamony colt, whose sire won the 1983 Preakness over a surface similar to yesterday's muck. "He's been prepping for this race."
There was really no contest after jockey Greg Hutton and Testafly raced away from long shot Lies of Omission after three quarters of a mile.
Hot Brush made his patented late run under Rick Wilson, but had a lot of ground to cover and couldn't challenge the winner.
The Broad Brush colt, who ran a respectable third to Skip Away in the Pimlico Special, also had some physical problems and was pulled up after the wire.
"He really came out running today," Hutton said of Testafly. "I made the lead so easily. Halfway around the turn I looked and no one else was doing any running.
"I asked my horse to go and he just opened up. It was taking a walk in the park. I'm very glad we got to run. For a while, it appeared we might not get in the remainder of the card."
Testafly ran on Preakness Day, finishing third in the Schaefer Handicap (his other MATCH start) to Acceptable after what Mills termed "a rough trip."
Rodney Brown represented brother J. D. in the winner's circle and said "my brother's a happy man because his boxer won a bout in New York last night, and his horse splashed home with the money today."
This year, Testafly is 4-for-7 with two stakes triumphs. His lifetime earnings rose to $237,146.
All scheduled turf races were moved to the main track and the infield tote board was shut down during the nasty storm.
Hot Wells at Del. Park
Hot Wells, scratched from the Belmont Stakes because owner Michael Lasky was refused a New York license, shows up today at Delaware Park.
He will run in the $150,000 Leonard Richards Stakes with Edgar Prado on a return call. Prado rode Hot Wells to a fourth-place Preakness finish.
Also in the field of the 1 1/16-mile affair is another Preakness entrant, Black Cash (fifth), and two New York-based invaders, Scatmandu and Undaunted Mettle.
According to the Daily Racing Form, the all-sources handle for the Belmont Stakes card was a record $55,613,482. It was the second-highest figure ever at Belmont Park -- exceeded only by the $64 million for the 1995 Breeders' Cup. The Belmont handle was another record, $28,354,318. The summer tour for steeplechasing begins at Pimlico on Wednesday. Jump events also are scheduled Thursday, including the Joe Aitcheson Novice Stakes. Defending nation champion Tom Voss is back atop the trainer standings with 10 wins (tied with Sanna Neilson).
Pub Date: 6/14/98