08/22/2009 12:00AM

Blind Date shows class in Pearl Necklace

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Blind Date wins the off-the-turf $50,000 Pearl Necklace Stakes at Laurel.

Blind Date took a big drop for the $50,000 Pearl Necklace Stakes at Laurel Park on Saturday and her class was apparent through the stretch run as she pulled away under confident handling by jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr. to win by 4 1/2 lengths.

Due to wet weather, the Pearl Necklace was switched from 1 1/16 miles on turf to a one-turn mile on Laurel's good main track, and the field scratched down from nine entrants to five starters.

Blind Date had won the Grade 3, $150,000 Virginia Oaks over 1 1/8 miles of soft turf at Colonial Downs in her last start, and on Saturday was facing Maryland-bred 3-year-old fillies. She appeared comfortable throughout, stalking an early pace of 24.52 and 47.86 seconds set by Ravenous, bid for the lead three wide on the stretch turn, and then lengthened her advantage in the final furlong while racing in the center of the track.

Blind Date, a daughter of Not for Love owned and bred by William Backer and trained by Hamilton Smith, was winning for the sixth time in eight starts. Her odds steadily dropped as post time approached and she eventually went off at 2-5 and paid $2.80. Her final time was 1:37.57.

Five Diamonds, the 7-2 second choice, saved ground inside the winner early, bid for the lead between horses bnearing the stretch and was good enough to best the pacesetting Ravenous for second by a length.