Updated on 09/17/2011 1:58PM

Laurel: City Fire ducks out but wins

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
City Fire with Abel Castellano Jr. riding wins the $50,000 Nellie Morse Stakes at Laurel Park.

City Fire won in spite of herself, taking the Nellie Morse Stakes at Laurel Park by a neck after veering out dramatically down the stretch run.

After setting the pace under jockey Abel Castellano Jr. through fractions of 24.08 seconds, 47.70, and 1:11.08, City Fire turned for home with a 2 1/2-length lead over Cruise Along, the 8-5 favorite. Inside the eighth pole, Castellano whipped the filly with his left hand, and she ducked to the outside, but Castellano managed to get her straightened out for the final yards.

Sweet Dynamite, who herself had drifted out in the upper stretch, rallied gamely for second, finishing a neck in front of third-place Undercover. It was just another head back to Cruise Along.

Jose Caraballo, rider of Cruise Along, made a claim of interference against City Fire, but a stewards' inquiry did not alter the order of finish.

City Fire finished the 1 1/16 miles of the Nellie Morse in 1:43.76 over a fast track and paid $19.60 to win. Ten fillies and mares, 4-years-old and upward, started in the $50,000 stakes.

For City Fire, owned by Michael Gill and trained by Mark Shuman, it was her first victory since the Pennsylvania Oaks in September. She had been off the board in three races, all graded stakes, since then. The Nellie Morse was her ninth victory from 21 career starts.