01/05/2008 12:00AM

Throng goes wire to wire


The three best races Throng ran in 2007 all came in the Midwest on Polytrack. Back on the East Coast, he proved he can run just as well on conventional dirt.

Facing easier company after competing in Grade 2 and Grade 3 stakes in three of his last four starts while in Kentucky and Illinois, Throng was sent to the front by first-time rider Carlos Marquez and cruised to a four-length romp in the $61,200 Native Dancer Stakes at Laurel Park.

Based in New York with trainer Todd Pletcher, the 5-year-old Throng ($11.40) won for first time since last June in the Dr. Fager at Arlington Park. His last victory on conventional dirt came in June 2006 at Churchill Downs.

Now 6 for 20 lifetime, Throng covered the one-turn mile in 1:34.80, just .40 of a second off the 27-year-old track record held by Skipper's Friend.

Judiths Wild Rush, who won last year's Native Dancer via disqualification, rallied to finish second, a neck in front of 19-1 longshot Barracuda Boy.

Marquez, 40, who rode regularly in Maryland in the 1990s, returned to the Mid-Atlantic region last summer after a decade in the Midwest. He is now 2 for 2 riding for Pletcher in stakes.

"I rode a winner in a $150,000 stakes for him at Louisiana Downs in 2006," Marquez said. "It is a pleasure to ride for him. He has nothing but rocket ships and they are always ready to run."

Digger, who had won three stakes in his last three visits to Laurel, was within 2 1/2 lengths of Throng with a quarter-mile remaining, but faded badly and was eased, finishing last of nine as the 3-2 favorite.