Thunder Flash prevailed over Harry's Halo in the quarter-mile dash for home and won the $50,000 Japan Racing Association Handicap yesterday at Laurel Park.
Thunder Flash beat a field of six, covering 1 1/4 miles in 2 minutes, 5 seconds. Originally scheduled for the turf, the race was contested over a fast main track because of soft conditions in the infield.
The winner, trained by Tim Ritchey, a Delaware-based conditioner, paid $4.80 as favorite and topped a 5-2 exacta of $7.80.
Mario Pino was aboard the chestnut colt for the first time.
"I picked this mount up when the race came off the turf," Pino said. "Tim told me this horse could get the distance but the key would be to just get him to relax and wait to make one big move.
"He was well-placed early and he really was very kind to rate. We just bided our time behind a slow early pace and when I asked him to fire he just gathered up momentum and went on about his business. I don't know if he would have won on the grass, but having the race go on the dirt certainly didn't hurt his chances."
A 3-year-old son of Cure The Blues, Thunder Flash is owned by William Logeman.
Special Dancer, who set the pace, finished third, followed by Bellwether, Hunter's Aim, Sibercrasher and Farl Who.