02/14/2004 1:00AM

Bear Fan the victor in Barbara Fritchie


Ryan Fogelsonger celebrated his return to the Maryland circuit by guiding the even-money favorite Bear Fan to win the Grade 2, $200,000 on Saturday at Laurel.

Bear Fan ($4.20), who shipped in from California off a closing third in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint on Jan. 25, was solid in her one-length victory over second choice Gazillion. Fogelsonger had Bear Fan four deep down the backstretch, just off a heavily contested early pace, and sent her to challenge Balmy into the stretch.

After opening up a three-length lead at the eighth pole, she had to be ridden hard to the wire to hold off Gazillion's late charge along the inside. The winner, trained by part-owner Wesley Ward, got the seven furlongs in 1:23.55.

Fogelsonger, who won the Eclipse Award as leading apprentice in 2002 while based at Laurel and Pimlico, moved his tack last year to Southern California. After only moderate results, however, Fogelsonger decided to return to Maryland. He arrived only Saturday morning, but managed to win with his first mount, Breanna's Smile, in the second race.

Ole Faunty upsets in Campbell

At the top of the stretch, 2-5 favorite Evening Attire looked like a cinch to justify his odds in the $150,000 John B. Campbell. But a near-disastrous incident in midstretch likely cost Evening Attire the victory, and instead allowed Ole Faunty ($13.80) to post the upset in the nine-furlong Campbell.

Rogue Agent set a moderate early pace of 24.38 and 48.33 seconds in the Campbell, allowing the normally late-running Evening Attire to lay closer than usual to the front while settled nicely on the inside. Ole Faunty was on Rogue Agent's flank, keeping Evening Attire locked on the rail.

Approaching the three-sixteenths pole, Bridgmohan daringly tried to send Evening Attire through, but Rogue Agent came in under right-handed urging by Norberto Arroyo, shutting off the favorite. Evening Attire bounced off the rail and nearly went down, but the gray remarkably regained his stride and finished on well, actually closing ground the final sixteenth.

Meanwhile, Ole Faunty spurted past Rogue Agent through the final yards, scoring by 1 1/4 lengths. The incident in midstretch was reviewed by the stewards, who eventually took down Rogue Agent to third, placing Evening Attire second. The placing allowed the 6-year-old Evening Attire to surpass the $2 million mark in earnings.

The Campbell was the first stakes victory for the Elliott Walden-trained Ole Faunty, who was ridden by Mike Luzzi. The 5-year-old gelding ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.05.