Crabcakes’ Emotional Win In Laurel’s Miss Disco ‘A Family Affair’

Racing for the first time following the Aug. 7 death of her owner-breeder, Elizabeth ‘Binnie’ Houghton of Buckingham Farm, Crabcakes gave the family reason to celebrate with an emotional 1 ¼-length victory in Saturday’s $75,000 Miss Disco at Laurel Park.

The six-furlong Miss Disco for 3-year-old fillies was one of three stakes restricted to Maryland-bred/sired horses on the Maryland Pride Day program, joined by the $75,000 Find for 3-year-olds and up and $75,000 All Brandy for fillies and mares 3 and older, both at 1 1/8 miles on Laurel’s world-class turf course. 

Trained by Houghton’s nephew, Bernie Houghton, and ridden by Forest Boyce, Crabcakes ($6.60) took the lead at the midway point of the race and steadily pulled away down the stretch to win in 1:08.77 over a fast main track, snapping a four-race losing streak with her second career stakes triumph.

“The last time she ran when she was second, [my aunt] couldn’t make it,” Houghton said. “The filly’s been doing great. She came into this race perfect. I couldn’t have asked her to be doing any better. She’s a nice, easy horse to train. I picked this spot out a couple of months ago so I really wanted to make sure she was ready for this spot. 

“It’s very special,” he added. “My aunt passed away about a week ago and we had this race picked out a long time ago. It all went as planned. It couldn’t have gone any better. I had her ready for this race. I’m glad we could pull it off.” 

Houghton was 79 when she passed away from a respiratory illness at Buckingham Farm, which she founded with her late husband, Eddie, on the shores of the Chester River in 1964. Over the next five decades, they bred, raised or campaigned more than 40 stakes winners including five Maryland-bred champions and four winners of the Maryland Million Classic.

“For me it couldn’t be a better win for this filly. She has been training great for Bernie and I’m am just so, so grateful that she did this. I know mom’s up there so proud,” Binnie Houghton’s daughter, Genevieve Pierce of Ennis, Mont., said. “She just loved this horse. Bernie’s been saying how great she’s been training and she’s just been going well. Mom really loved her and I know she tried to make it for this race.” 

Crabcakes settled outside of 18-1 pacesetter Troublesome through an opening quarter-mile in 23.27 seconds, effortlessly cruising up to take the lead after going a half in 45.29. Boyce kept the dark bay or brown daughter of Great Notion straight as Hailey’s Flip came to challenge in the stretch.

“I thought maybe [3-2 favorite Ascertain] would go to the lead and I told Forest to just sit behind there and if she wants to take the lead on her own, go ahead, if not just sit right back and it couldn’t have been any better,” Houghton said. “She was comfortable the whole way. I was watching the race by myself in the back like I usually do and I had a smile on my face the whole way because she was going so good.”

Hailey’s Flip was a decisive second, seven lengths ahead of Faze the Nation. Lucky in Malibu, Le Weekend, Saint Main Event, Ascertain, and Troublesome completed the order of finish. Misty On Pointe was scratched.

Crabcakes is out of the mare Aunt Elaine, who Buckingham bred and raced to three wins and more than $91,000 in purse earnings in 2005-06. Crabcakes’ granddam, Annie Cake, was a Grade 3 winner of nearly $165,000 bred by Binnie Houghton’s father, Anderson Fowler, and raced in her mother Elaine’s name.

“My aunt bred her and did all the breeding and then she named her Crabcakes; what a name that was being a Maryland-bred,” Bernie Houghton said. “My aunt had Dickie Small and when he died I took over training. It’s a nice family affair. My cousin is here and her daughter. It really was a family thing from the day the foal was born, right on the farm.” 

Houghton said he return Crabcakes to his Penn National-based string but will be back at Laurel, where Crabcakes has three wins and two seconds from five career starts including the Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship last December. 

“I have to pick out a spot,” he said. “There are a lot of good races here in Maryland for her and the Maryland Million is coming up so probably something in between there.”

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