Fresh Abbondanza Captures Fire Plug

After a brief freshening, Germania Farms' Abbondanza roared back into action with a victory in the $85,000 Fire Plug Stakes for older horses on Martin Luther King Day Monday at Laurel Park.

One of the top sprinters in the country in 2004, Abbondanza struggled a year ago, winning just two of eight and ended the year with a 13th-place finish in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (gr. I) in November. Prior to this first start since that time, Abbondanza posted three straight bullet workouts for trainer Tim Tullock.

Jockey Enrique Jurado had a fistful of horse when they grabbed the lead at the start of the six-furlong Fire Plug. The 5-year-old dropped back to fourth while racing in tight quarters along the rail, but Jurado sent him wide and into the clear entering the stretch, urging him past the leaders to win by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:11.41.

Crafty Schemer loomed a winner at the top of the stretch but could not hold off his chestnut rival and ran second. Dale's Prospect led into the stretch but gave way and finished third. Saay Mi Name, the 9-5 favorite, never fired and finished fifth.

Abbondanza, earning $63,500 for the victory, paid $9.60, $5.20, and $4.40 and topped a $51.60 exacta and $233.80 trifecta. Crafty Schemer returned $7.40 and $5, while Dale's Prospect was $4.40 to show.

"I think he'll be a better horse this year than he was last year, for sure," Tullock said. "We had a few hurdles we had to overcome last year, and it took us a while to get him good. Hopefully, we'll have a good year."

Tullock indicated he'll nominate Abbondanza for the $300,000 General George Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) on Feb. 20 but is unlikely to run. The Alphabet Soup horse has just two in-the-money finishes in seven graded starts.

(Chart, Equibase)