12/29/2012 5:30PM

Laurel: Il Villano changes tactics to take Dave's Friend

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Il Villano, under Kendrick Carmouche, avoids getting splashed with mud by running on the front end in the Dave's Friend.

Il Villano has been coming from off the pace in his recent races, including a nose defeat in his last visit to Laurel Park for the $350,000 Frank De Francis Memorial Dash  two months ago. But he proved even more effective racing on the front end over a muddy track Saturday in the $100,000 Dave’s Friend Stakes for older sprinters.

Sent to the front by jockey Kendrick Carmouche to challenge New York shipper This Ones  for Phil, Il Villano ($6.40) put away the 3-2 favorite and splashed his way to a 3 1/2-length victory.

In winning for the first time since taking the Chick Lang at Pimlico on the Preakness Day program, Il Villano completed six furlongs in 1:11.20. A son of Pollard’s Vision owned by Chuck Russo and trained by Susan Crowell, Il Villano is now 5 for 13 lifetime, including four stakes.

Carmouche, based at Parx Racing, which is also Il Villano’s home track, said he decided quickly to ask his mount for early speed.

“Nobody wanted to go, so it might as well have been me,” Carmouche said.

“He is amazing,” Crowell said of Il Villano. “I thought we would be sitting off the pace like we did in the De Francis but he had other plans. Speed had not been holding today but it worked out well for us.”

Crowell indicated she could return to Laurel for the $200,000 General George Handicap on Feb. 18,

This Ones for Phil, second in the Grade 2 General George Handicap in his last trip to Laurel in February, dueled up front with Il Villano down the backstretch,  but gave way on the turn and faded to last.

Immortal Eyes outgamed 9-1 outsider Wolfcamp by a neck to get second.

In the co-featured $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Championship, longshot Alpha Mike Foxtrot overcame a ton of trouble on the backstretch to score a come-from-behind 2 1/4-length victory.

Jockey Forest Boyce had to check Alpha Mike Foxtrot ($21.40) four times within the first half-mile of the 7 1/2-furlong race and dropped all the way back to seventh after a half-mile in 47.15 seconds.

“The whole way down the backside he was getting out real bad,” said Boyce, who finally allowed the horse to have his way by steering him to the far outside. “He wasn’t going to give me any other option.”

Responding once he was taken six-wide, Alpha Mike Foxtrot began picking off horses through the stretch, took the lead  inside the eighth pole and drew clear for his first win since taking his maiden in his second career start in July. His best subsequent race came when he missed by a neck in the six-furlong Maryland Million Nursery.

A son of Two Punch trained by Dickie Small for owner Larry Knight Jr., Alpha Mike Foxtrot completed the distance over a track rated sloppy in 1:34.51.

Hanky Doodle rallied to get second, a length in front of Peeds in a Pod. Lunar Rock finished sixth as the 2-1 favorite.