Jockey Channing Hill recorded the first graded stakes victory of his career Saturday, shooting Golden Dawn to the lead outside the quarter pole and guiding her to an authoritative six-length victory in the Grade 2, $300,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Park.
Control System, the even-money favorite, finished second by a half-length over the late-running For Kisses. Oprah Winney, last year's Fritchie winner, finished last after setting the early pace.
Golden Dawn had post 3, but Hill immediately got her to the rail, where she stalked Oprah Winney through fractions of 22.62 seconds and 45.95 for the opening half-mile. Leaving the five-sixteenths pole, Hill shot Golden Dawn to the lead inside of a tiring Oprah Winney, and Golden Dawn poured it on through the stretch despite drifting out late.
Golden Dawn, a 4-year-old daughter of Hennessy owned by Marty Cunningham and trained by Mike Hushion, covered the seven furlongs in 1:23.24 and returned $10 as the second choice.
"I had a ton of confidence in my filly today," said the 20-year-old Hill, whose previous biggest win purse-wise was last year's $169,000 New York Derby at Finger Lakes aboard Chief's Lake. "When she went up inside I just had a ton of horse, and if I got through, someone had to really come running to beat us."
Hushion, who uses Hill frequently in New York, called him "the best kept secret in the jocks' room."
Control System, coming off two stakes wins over Aqueduct's inner track, loomed at the quarter pole but was no match through the lane under Julian Pimentel.
"The winner obviously came here meaning business and ran a huge race," said Mike Trombetta, trainer of Control System. "Turning for home, it looked like it would be the two of them battling it out, but that other filly was super and today was her day."
It was the third victory in four starts for Golden Dawn since being purchased privately by Cunningham and turned over to Hushion. Last out, Golden Dawn won the Fiesta Lady Stakes at Aqueduct by six lengths.
"She's been getting better every race," Hushion said. "We thought if she took another step forward it would be a big one, and we saw it today."
Laurel Park, 10th Race - Feb. 16, 2008
Nite Lite rallies to win Campbell
Forced to come from farther back than he is accustomed, favored Nite Light ($4.20) rallied in the stretch under Mike Luzzi to run down Happy Surprise and take the $79,600 John B. Campbell Handicap by 1 3/4 lengths. It was three-quarters of a length back to Angliana in third.
It was the fourth consecutive victory for Nite Light, a son of Thunder Gulch owned by Ed Evans and trained by Todd Pletcher.
As Happy Surprise ran off to a 15-length lead, Nite Light rated in third position early on before moving into second entering the far turn. Turning for home, Nite Light set sail for Happy Surprise and caught him 30 yards out from the wire.
As he went by Diamond David and jockey Jose Caraballo, Luzzi said he asked Caraballo, "Do you think I'll get there?"
"I think I heard him giggle a little bit," Luzzi said. "I was a little unsure if I'd get there, but I had to get going."
Nite Light covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.33.