The four horses came toward the wire nearly abreast, with any one of them having a chance to capture the $54,400 Bowie Stakes at Laurel Park yesterday.
But it was Greenspring Willy, at 11-to-1 odds, who survived the showdown, upsetting even-money favorite Purple Passion for Post Time 96, a racing association of Baltimore area businessmen.
The Maryland Million Sprint Handicap champion thus won his fifth stakes races of 1998, beating Wire Me Collect by a neck, with Purple Passion another neck back in third.
"He's a nice little guy," said trainer Dick Dutrow, who has been battling health problems.
"Today, he was in behind horses with no place to go. I told Larry [jockey Reynolds] all I wanted him to do do was ride him from the quarter pole home. That's exactly the way the race came up."
Purple Passion had won four of five previous starts at Laurel, losing only to Royal Haven in last year's General George Stakes, the ultimate objective for him now.
Among Purple Passion's victories was the $75,000 Lite The Fuse Stakes in his previous start when Greenspring Willy finished fourth after racing wide and undergoing a brush with another horse.
Reynolds said that this time Greenspring Willy had a better trip.
"I think he may have needed the race last time," said the jockey. "Today, I was able to save ground around the backside, and when I angled him out, he really kicked on. He's honest. When he gives me everything, he's really tough to beat."
Greenspring Willy completed the six furlongs in 1: 09 3/5 and paid $25 to win.
Jockey Freddy Castillo said Purple Passion "pulled up good" after his first loss since September and only eighth in 20 lifetime starts. "He ran a good race, but seemed to get a little tired inside the eighth pole. The important thing is he came back in good shape."
One of Greenspring Willy's owners, Alvin Akman, called him "a fun horse. He's won a lot of stakes for us. Somebody remarked to me that he might be the best 3-year-old in Maryland this year because of all the stakes wins. He means a great deal to us."
Chapter 11 for Colonial?
Everything remains quiet on the Colonial Downs front, but that could change Wednesday when the Virginia Racing Commission holds its regular December meeting.
There has been heavy speculation that the track's president, Jeff Jacobs, will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the debt-ridden facility, which lost another $1.5 million in the third quarter, bringing the year's total to more than $4 million.
Jacobs has deferred all discussion on finances until the coming meeting in Richmond, but has decided to step aside as track president at the end of the year.
Colonial Downs' general manager, Gil Short, who has had health problems, has resigned that post and will become a consultant.
Sanna Neilson has supplanted Monkton's Tom Voss as the leading National Steeplechase Association trainer this year, recording 23 victories to runner-up Voss' 19.
Voss finished third in the category of money won with $452,325; Janet Elliot ($572,675) and Jonathan Sheppard ($496,094) were ahead of him.
Sean Clancy edged Craig Thornton, 23-22, to top the victory list for riders, while Jonathan Kiser's mounts earned the most money, $488,190.
Saluter, owned by Jack Fisher of Butler, was the timber champion, while Flat Top captured three races to lead all horses in earnings at $188,700.
The top owner was Sheppard's Augustin Stables with $391,830 in purses.
The 1999 steeplechase season will begin March 20 in Aiken, S.C., and will include My Lady's Manor at Monkton, April 10; the Grand National at Butler, April 17, and the Maryland Hunt Cup at Glyndon, April 24.
Defending champion Silver Charm heads the list of 62 nominations for the Dubai World Cup, March 28. Another Bob Baffert trainee, 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Real Quiet, is also on the list, as is Belmont Stakes champ Victory Gallop. The second-entry stage for the race will close Feb. 3. The Stallion Season and Sporting Art Auction coming up Feb. 6 at CandyLand Farm is a worthwhile event. It benefits the New Jersey-based Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and also will aid other horse-related organizations, including New Bolton Center and the Maryland Horsemen Assistance Fund. Sponsors Herb and Ellen Moelis are asking for help in the form of donations of seasons, art or equine memorabilia and bidders.
Pub Date: 12/13/98