01/19/2013 5:50PM

Laurel: Ore Pass redeems himself by scoring in Frank Whiteley Jr. Stakes

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Ore Pass, ridden by Julian Pimentel, wins as the favorite in the Frank Whiteley Jr. for 3-year-olds.

Trainer Mike Trombetta gave himself a back-up plan for Ore Pass by entering his lightly raced 3-year-old in a one-mile, first-level allowance on this Thursday’s card at Laurel Park. As it turned out, Trombetta won’t have to use that insurance policy.

Ore Pass, who flopped as the 4-5 favorite in an allowance sprint at Parx Racing two weeks ago, returned Saturday and redeemed himself by scoring in the $75,000 Frank Whiteley Jr. Stakes for 3-year-olds at Laurel.

In covering the seven furlongs in 1:243.78 under Julian Pimentel, Ore Pass ($5.80) improved his record to 2 for 3. He sat two lengths off a contested pace in 46.47 seconds, emerged from a pack to take the lead in upper stretch, and opened up a 3 1/2-length advantage through six furlongs  in 1:11.63. Alpha Mike Foxtrot, winner of the Maryland Juvenile Championship, rallied to cut two lengths off the lead, but Ore Pass was still 1 1/2 lengths clear at the wire.

Alpha Mike Foxtrot, the 5-2 second choice, was 3 1/2 lengths in front of third-place Lunar Rock. The field was reduced to seven by three scratches, including morning-line favorite Heat Press. He is entered back in Thursday’s $40,000 allowance feature.

Trombetta, who trains Ore Pass for Harry and Tom Meyerhoff, said he remains baffled by what caused the son of War Pass to stop badly, beaten more than 16 lengths, in his last race on Jan. 5.

“We were plenty worried,” Trombetta said. “We still don’t have a good explanation for why he didn’t do so well a couple of weeks ago. He just had a bad day.”

Pimentel said things went exactly according to plan, stalking the pace set by Patrick S. and Saint Arbor.

“I was kind of glad Mike told me just to stay behind the two horses,” said Pimentel. “When it was time go, just do it. He was kind of getting bored out there by himself. He was waiting a little bit. That was more like him.”

Trombetta, who conditioned 2006 Preakness Stakes runner-up Sweetnorthernsaint, indicated Ore Pass could run next in the Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel on Feb. 9.

“This was a great step back in the right direction,” Trombetta said. “We had those Triple Crown thoughts after the first race like this one was going to be very good. It seems like the train is back on the tracks.”