Updated on 02/10/2012 11:46AM

Laurel Park: Acting Happy back from long layoff in Maryland Racing Media Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Acting Happy will return from nearly a year-long layoff in Saturday’s $100,000 Maryland Racing Media Stakes at Laurel Park.

A pair of 5-year-old mares, one trying to regain the form that made her a graded stakes winner two seasons ago after being sidelined for nearly a year and the other a stakes winner in each of her last two route races locally, look like the prime players in Saturday’s $100,000 Maryland Racing Media Stakes at Laurel Park.

Acting Happy, winner of the Grade 3 Miss Preakness as a 3-year-old of 2010 and third behind Blind Luck in the Grade 1 Alabama that same season, returns from an extended layoff to face Baltimore Belle, a three-time stakes winner in 2011, in Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile sixth race.

Acting Happy raced just once as a 4-year-old, finishing a close second in a second-level optional $62,500 claimer going nine furlongs at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 16, 2011. She has been prepping for her comeback in Florida for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.

Dutrow is adept at bringing back horses who have been idle for long periods in high-class races. Over the past five years, he is 3 for 7 in ungraded stakes with horses who have been off between 183 and 477 days. All seven horses finished at least third.

Baltimore Belle, locally based with trainer Mike Trombetta, will be making her first start since finishing a distant second as the even-money favorite in the Sleigh Ride on Jan. 2 at Parx Racing. Each of the last two times she has returned from a short layoff, Baltimore Belle has produced a victory, winning the off-the-turf Dahlia last April and the restricted Geisha in December.

Baltimore Belle is the only runner in the field to have run at Laurel, with seven one-two finishes in 13 tries on her home track. Julian Pimentel will be aboard for the eighth time.

“What I like about her is that she can be anywhere she wants, all I need to do is place her where she is comfortable,” Pimentel said. “She always tries and is an honest filly. I had a chance to go to New York to ride a stakes horse for Chris Grove but I ride a lot for Trombetta and Mike wanted me to stay to ride Baltimore Belle."

There are just three challengers to the two logical favorites – Lacie Slew, shipping north following a third-place finish in an optional $100,000 claimer at Gulfstream in December; Pilot Point Lady, stepping up in class in search of her fourth straight win; and Queen’s Rule, winner of a first-level allowance for Pennsylvania-breds two starts ago.

◗ Jockey Albert Delgado, 47, has been suspended 30 days for his ride aboard My Sweet Nenana, the 1-2 favorite who finished seventh of 10 in a $5,000 claiming race last Wednesday. Delgado, currently third in the Laurel jockey standings, will be eligible to resume riding March 12.

According to steward John Burke, a week-long investigation did not uncover any deliberate attempt by Delgado to prevent his horse from finishing in the money.

“Albert said he was afraid of the horse, and we concur,” Burke said. “We don’t believe there was anything nefarious going on here. Nothing points to it.”