Be Sneaky
Be Sneaky won at first asking at Laurel Park. Photo by Maryland Jockey Club.

Lael Stables’ homebred Be Sneaky, a first-time starter by leading sire Into Mischief, took over the lead after a half-mile and overcome some greenness through the stretch to graduate Thursday with a thrilling nose triumph over Met in Miami at Laurel Park.

Thursday’s eight-race program marked the first time in more than seven months that the public was allowed to watch in person. Live racing was paused in Maryland for 2 ½ months amid the coronavirus pandemic before returning May 30, and had been conducted since without spectators at both Laurel and Pimlico Race Course.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order Sept. 28 allowing for up to 250 spectators at the state’s racetracks. Officials from Anne Arundel County, where Laurel Park is located, gave the green light following opening weekend of the calendar year-ending fall meet Oct. 8-11.

With Daniel Centeno up for trainer Arnaud Delacour, 2-1 favorite Be Sneaky ($6.20) ran seven furlongs in 1:25.20 over a fast main track to win the $40,000 maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies. She is out of the Big Brown mare Bella Castani, a turf stakes winner in 2013 who finished her career for Delacour in 2014.

Centeno settled Be Sneaky in the clear three wide as Union Tatters ran the opening quarter-mile in 23.47 seconds, pressed to her outside by Chelsea Wall. Be Sneaky found herself a length in front after going a half in 46.85 chased by Carbis Bay while Union Tatters retreated on the rail.

Be Sneaky straightened for home in command while Met in Miami began to launch her bid, splitting horses at the top of the stretch and closing ground along the inside as Be Sneaky, based at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., began to drift out to the center of the track.

“I was a little worried when she made the lead at the quarter pole. She was in a great spot and horses were getting tired,” Delacour said. “She ended up in front probably a little bit soon and she started looking around but I think it’s just greenness. She still needs to learn. We’re not really exposed to that kind of scenery at Fair Hill with the grandstand and everything, but hopefully she can learn from that and be better the next time.”

Met in Miami was a clear second, 3 ¼ lengths ahead of Union Tatters. Three horses, including 9-5 favorite Out of Sorts, were forced to scratch as a result of Fraudulent Charge flipping and getting lodged under the starting gate. All three horses escaped unharmed.

“[Be Sneaky] has shown a lot in the morning and I thought that she could go seven [furlongs],” Delacour said. “If the race had been six I would have put her in because she was ready to run, but it looked like she would be OK at the distance.”