12/31/2005 1:00AM

Laurel: Vegas Play runs down favorite


The big question going into the $75,000 Maryland Juvenile Champion Stakes at Laurel was whether heavy favorite Travelin Leroy could get the one-mile distance.

He couldn't.

Travelin Leroy, sent off at 3-5, got the clear lead projected for him, but he couldn't handle Vegas Play or Creve Coeur in the stretch of the stakes for 2-year-old Maryland-breds and finished third. Vegas Play overcame a ridiculous amount of trouble to win the Maryland Juvenile by a half-length over Creve Coeur, who had 1 3/4 lengths on Travelin Leroy.

Vegas Play was impeded by traffic while along the rail in the stretch, hit the rail with about a furlong remaining, yet managed to run down Creve Coeur under Richard Monterrey. Trained by Bud Delp, Vegas Play ran the mile in 1:40.94 and paid $16.40.

Vegas Play was coming off an eighth-place finish in the Laurel Futurity on turf, which may have inflated his odds. Before that he finished second in a main-track allowance route at Delaware Park and third in the one-mile Whirling Ash there, races that showed distance was not a problem for him.

Travelin Leroy, on the other hand, had won a Belmont maiden sprint by almost nine lengths in May and finished second in a quickly run Delaware allowance sprint in November.