01/29/2011 5:51PM

Wicked Thunder noses out Diski Dance in Dancing Count

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Wicked Thunder (No. 7), under Josean Ramirez, edges Diski Dancer to win the Dancing Count at Laurel.

Wicked Thunder continues to make a habit of being involved in photo finishes.

For the third straight time, a neck or less separated Wicked Thunder from his closest opponent. Unlike last time out, when he was nosed out by Afternoon Action, Wicked Thunder managed to get his nose in front at the wire in Saturday’s $51,500 Dancing Count Stakes for 3-year-olds at Laurel Park.

Racing over a muddy track for the first time in his nine-race career, Wicked Thunder ($7) made a four-wide rally coming into the stretch to challenge pacesetter Diski Dance. The two battled on nearly even terms from midstretch to the finish with Wicked Thunder barely prevailing to keep intact  his streak of never finishing worse than second.

Ridden by Josean Ramirez, Wicked Thunder just reached the wire first after six furlongs in 1:11.76.

Trained and partially owned by Gary Capuano, Wicked Thunder was making his stakes debut after losing a photo three weeks ago to Afternoon Action. Prior to that, Wicked Thunder got up by a neck in a first-level optional claimer. The Dancing Count was the fourth win in 9 starts for Wicked Thunder, a son of Thunder Gulch.

“He puts it out there and gives it his all every time out,” said Capuano, who won the Dancing Count four years ago with Great Seneca. "My horse does what he does in the morning but in the afternoon he becomes a competitor, which is better than the other way.”

Diski Dance, the 8-5 favorite in a field of seven, was bidding for his fourth straight victory while rising out of the claiming ranks. Afternoon Action finished third, 2 1/4 lengths behind the top pair and three-quarters of a length in front of Concealed Identity, winner of the Maryland Juvenile Championship last time out.