Littlestitious was up to win the Beyond the Wire Stakes at Laurel Park. Photo by Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club.

Prior to Saturday, it had been more than 30 years since Joel Politi had been to Laurel Park. It was worth the wait.

Politi, a native of Youngstown, OH, made the trek to Laurel Saturday to watch Littlestitious, a three-year-old Ghostzapper filly he owns, rally down the center of the track to register a mild upset in the $100,000, one-mile Beyond the Wire Stakes.

“Maybe 36 years I haven’t been here,” Politi said after the race. “But, yeah, this is definitely the highlight of me coming here.”

While Politi and his family made the trek from Ohio, their horse, trained by Tom Amoss, came up from Louisiana, where she’d been since December. During that time Littlestitious had posted a 10-length win in the My Trusty Cat Stakes at Delta Downs and followed that up, two starts later, with a decent fourth in the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra at the Fair Grounds.

“She’s a fighter,” Politi said. “She’s fought in all of her races.”

Perhaps so, but the bettors saw two others — Street Lute and Fraudulent Charge — as more likely. The former, trained at Laurel by Jerry Robb, had won five consecutive stakes coming into the contest, all at six or seven furlongs. The latter, from the Lacey Gaudet barn, had finished second in two of those; and her connections hoped the added ground of the Beyond the Wire might allow their charge to turn the tables.

When the gates opened, the two favorites — Street Lute at 7-10 and Fraudulent Charge at 5-2 — established the early advantage. The two were separated by just a head at each of the first three points of call, and while the opening quarter-mile came in a moderate 24.71 seconds, each of the next two fractions came in under 24 seconds.

When the field had traveled six furlongs, Fraudulent Charge under Johan Rosado had a head advantage over Street Lute and Xavier Perez, the fraction gone in 1:11.64.

More importantly, Littlestitious was perched off the duel and readying her move.

“I was able to sit just off the pace early and stay three-wide down the backside,” said winning rider Sheldon Russell. “My filly got a little flat on the far turn, then she dug in for me at the top of the lane.”

Russell guided his mount three wide, and she was able to wear down Fraudulent Charge with a grinding run to win by a half-length. It was more than four lengths back to Street Lute in third. Running time for the one-turn mile over a fast main track was 1:36.75.

“I just let the race play out and she really responded when I set her down in the lane,” Russell said.

Littlestitious now has three wins and $204,340 in earnngs from eight career starts, with the winner’s share of the Beyond the Wire pushing her earnings past the $190,000 Politi paid for her as a yearling.

It’s a far cry from the kind of horses he used to accompany to Laurel.

“We had bred horses in our backyard, basically,” Politi said. “We had a bunch of Ohio-breds, and in the winter, there’s no Ohio racing. So my dad sent horses to Maryland.”

Backyard horses generally don’t turn into this kind of runner, though, and while Politi said he didn’t know what might be next, there are some pretty good local options for sophomore fillies, including April’s Weber City Miss and May’s Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan.