At 8, 'Call' still has it all at Laurel; 3 1/4-length Turf Cup win is 12th in 29 career starts


He is as honest as they come, this 8-year-old turf specialist named John's Call.

Asked yesterday to cover more ground than normal, the gelding responded handsomely and pulled away to a 3 1/4-length victory in the 46th edition of the Grade III, $100,000 Laurel Turf Cup at Laurel Park.

It was the 12th win in 29 lifetime starts on the grass for John's Call, who has finished worse than third just four times.

His career earnings climbed above $420,000 with the $60,000 share of the purse.

Trainer Tommy Voss said John's Call keeps improving as he ages.

"The older he gets, the better he gets," said Voss. "He has tactical speed and a good finishing kick. I was a little concerned about the distance [1 1/2 miles]. A mile and a half looks like his ceiling."

Second choice Pay Zone set the early pace -- slow -- but couldn't stave off John's Call and long-shot Brightwood, who rallied from fifth to capture the place by a neck.

Pay Zone, with Mario Pino aboard, crawled through fractions of 26 3/5, 52 1/5 and 1: 18 2/5, with winning jockey Steve Hamilton content to rate John's Call a few lengths behind the leaders.

While navigating the third and final turn, John's Call kicked in as Hamilton angled out for the drive. They closed quickly and won going away.

The winning time was 2: 33 2/5 over a yielding course.

"Mr. Voss said this was not the horse's best distance, but he wanted to try him today and all I can say is that he was so strong he was unbelievable," said Hamilton. "This horse is like a bottle of wine, getting better with age."

Anne Arundel county executive Janet Owens will participate in a groundbreaking ceremony today for "Laurel Commons," a new, $1.85 million development that will provide affordable housing for 72 horsemen and women who will live on the Laurel Park backstretch.

Ceremonies will begin at 11: 30 a.m. and are scheduled to last 30 minutes. Martin Jacobs, general counsel to the Maryland Jockey Club, will serve as master of ceremonies. Lunch will be served in the clubhouse following the program.

John Poe added to his lead in the Amateur Riders Club of America standings this week by winning easily aboard Brave Fury in a $14,500 claimer at Laurel. He has three victories from eight mounts.

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