One of the nation's hottest jockeys and one of its winningest trainers teamed up yesterday to win the Lady Dean Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Laurel Park.
Travis Dunkelberger rode the winner, Prized Stamp, who is trained by Dale Capuano. The pair also combined to win two other races at Laurel - the eighth and the 11th.
That elevated Dunkelberger's win total for the year to 191 and Capuano's to 95. They rank among the top five riders and trainers in the country.
A Kentucky-bred daughter of Prized, Prized Stamp roared down the stretch to win by four lengths. At odds of 6-1, she provided a mild surprise for bettors, who hammered Logan's Press Card down to even money. The favorite threatened early but finished sixth in the seven-horse field.
Capuano has conditioned Prized Stamp for her eight races, of which she's won four at distances from six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. The filly's Canadian owner sent her unraced to Capuano after Woodbine closed last year.
"She really likes a fast racetrack," Capuano said. "The faster the better."
Her time of 1 minute, 23.13 seconds, for the seven furlongs was "smoking," the trainer said, for a 3-year-old filly.
Because her sire was a top turf runner, Capuano tried Prized Stamp on the turf last month at Pimlico. She finished fourth. He switched her back to dirt for the Lady Dean.
"She can do about anything," Capuano said.
And so, it seems, can Capuano. Nearly always at the top in wins in Maryland, Capuano ranks among the best in the nation this year because, he said, "our stock's a little better than it was last year."
Capuano won 96 races last year. He's only one shy of that already in 2000. A couple of new owners have upgraded the talent in his Laurel barn, he said.
Dunkelberger, 23, has threatened the nation's perennial win leader, Russell Baze, by riding full time in Maryland as well as at Charles Town. Dunkelberger was on his way to a standout year last July when he fractured his neck in two places in a spill at Laurel. He was sidelined 4 1/2 months.
NOTE: Featuring a catalog of 142 horses, the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training and horses of racing age takes place at noon Tuesday at the Timonium Fairgrounds.