The hard-knocking gray mare Bronze Abe bounced to the lead and battled head-to-head almost to the finish line to win the $73,500 What A Summer Stakes Saturday at Laurel Park, marking the fourth straight year the daughter of Two Punch has won an added money race in Maryland. The 5-year-old Maryland bred won the Heavenly Cause as a two-year old in 2001, the Jameela a year later and Skipat last year. Samuel Bayard owns her.Bronze Abe was first away at the start but exchanged the lead with Bamba as the field raced down the backstretch, with even money favorite Gazillion in close pursuit of the top pair. Bamba pushed her head in front at the top of the lane but Bronze Abe surged ahead a furlong from home to win by a half-length. Bamba was second and Gazillion finished third.Sent to post as the second choice in the field of seven older fillies and mares, Bronze Abe and jockey Eric Rodriguez teamed up for their second stakes win for Hall of Fame trainer Bud Delp. They won the Skipat Stakes at Pimlico last spring. They covered the six-furlong What A Summer distance in 1:10.53.Rodriguez, 23, had just one win this year entering Saturday's card, but scored for the fourth time in nine mounts aboard Bronze Abe."The inside horse (Bamba) got a little ahead of me, but when I asked this filly to really run, she set down and just wore that other filly out," he said. "This horse is a very good horse and we get along really well."Gazillion, a multiple stakes winner at seven furlongs, tired down the stretch.
Bronze Abe paid $5.80, $4.60 and $2.10. Bamba returned $10.40 and $2.40. Gazillion's show was $2.10.(Chart, Equibase)