It was an intriguing day at Laurel Park yesterday with a shower hitting the track the race before the feature, a rainbow arching over the backstretch following the downpour, then the rare bald eagle flying in for a visit to the infield pond just before the card ended.
But all the off-track activity had no effect on the competition itself as prohibitive favorites continued to rule.
The trend was underscored again in the featured $75,000 Lady Baltimore Stakes when Melody Queen upheld her even-money status to score a 2 1/4 -length victory over the rallying second choice, Orange Sunset. She completed a mile and an eighth in a slow 1:56 over a turf course softened by the moisture.
With neither owner Nigel Shields nor trainer Michael Dickinson present, jockey Mario Pino explained that Melody Queen has "had some tough luck in some better races. Today, she faced easier horses and just overpowered them. We had a good trip."
Favored based on several close calls in graded events, including a second to Colstar in the Galorette Handicap on Black-Eyed Susan day, Melody Queen and Pino were content to lurk behind a sluggish pace by Absolutely Queenie.
Absolutely Queenie got away with the snail's tempo until Melody Queen angled off the rail, gained the lead in early stretch and then safely held off Orange Sunset, who was coming from last.
"They were going to go slow anyway because it was so soft, but it was only a matter of time for me to get out," said Pino. "She went like it was a fast course."
Melody Queen is now 7-for-30 lifetime and has earned more than $200,000 on grass courses.
BREEDER'S CUP: Breeder's Cup Limited yesterday re-launched its Web site (www.breederscup.com) that now features a comprehensive Breeders' Cup multimedia gallery, interactive foal nominations and eligibility system and an internal search capability.
NOTES: Timonium's upcoming 10-day meeting will have the same look as the last two years.
Purse structures again will be identical to those at Laurel Park and Pimlico and the fairgrounds track will have three stakes races with $40,000 purses. The $10,000 trainers' bonus money will include $4,000 to the winner of the meeting. ...
Jockey Travis Dunkelberger escaped serious injury when Spring Comet, his mount in the second race, collapsed just after the eighth pole while engaged in a head-to-head stretch battle with the eventual winner, Goal Adam Go. The 3-year-old gelding died.