The big news from Old Hilltop was the fact that jockey Ryan Fogelsonger, who has the most wins at Maryland tracks since 2002, will be leaving the Maryland racing circuit.
Maryland has a rich history in developing talented young riders who leave the state for bigger and better opportunities. Chris McCarron, Julie Krone, Kent Desormeaux and Edgar Prado top the list. All who preceded Fogelsonger left for places like New York and California, where all of the top trainers and horses are located. Not Fogelsonger, he’s taking his tack to Presque Isle Downs, which is located in the tropical paradise of Erie, PA. What does Erie, PA have that the Maryland tracks don’t have? S-L-O-T-S!
Presque Isle Downs is the newest thoroughbred race track in North America. The appropriate name is ‘Racino’ (i.e. Race track and casino). I visited this track last month. The parking lot is five times the size of the facility, which is small, but was very profitable during its inaugural season… with the same class level horses that are running at Pimlico and Laurel. The major difference is a $5,000 Claiming race in Maryland carries a purse of $10,000. At Presque Isle Downs the same race carries a purse of $15,000. Considering jockeys earn 10% of a winner’s purse, Fogelsonger is looking at a 33% pay increase. Who could turn that down?
Understand that S-L-O-T-S alone will not save Maryland horse racing, but it will put us on a level playing field with Delaware, West Virginia and now Pennsylvania.
Enough of the “Doom and Gloom” talk. We have live horse racing in Baltimore until June 7th, so let’s enjoy and support it while we still have it around.
Recapping Day 2 (April 18th)…
Best Bet, Bleniem (# 2; 2nd race; 9-5) WON convincing at short odds, but a win is a win, paying $4.60.
Longshot, Top Of The Tree (# 7; 4th race; 12-1) got support at the windows and went off at 7-1, but never got going and finished an uninspiring 6th.
SHOW Parlay Play of the Day, Lotsa Ileana (# 1; 1st race) ran 2nd but due to three horses being scratched, reducing the field to 4 horses, with only 3 betting interests, there was no PLACE or SHOW wagering. Hence, we had no bet. I suspect that track management may have encouraged trainers with horse in the 1st race to scratch their horse in fear of a Minus Show Pool. This occurs when the track has to payout more than what was bet in the entire SHOW Pool.
Here’s what I like for the Day 3 (Apr. 18th) of the Pimlico Spring Meet…
: Icabad Crane
(# 3; 9th
race – Federico Tesio; 8-1)
There are 8 solid 3 year olds in this feature race so I envision the Post Time favorite being 5-2 or higher. I’d be shocked if Icabad Crane went off anywhere close to the 8-1 Morning Line odds. He didn’t embarrass himself in his 2008 debut when 3rd at Turfway Park in the 100k Rushaway Stakes. Jock Jeremy Rose will have him lying well off what sets up to be a quick pace, then make his run in deep stretch.
Longshot: Rasser (# 4; 1st race; 8-1)
Trainer Howard Wolfendale’s only entry on the card showed promise in 2007 at a higher level, but still couldn’t break maiden 2 weeks ago for a $10k tag. The rest of this group has issues so I figure he’s got a legit shot at graduating today.
SHOW Parlay available bankroll: $114
SHOW Parlay Play of the Day: $34 on Wildress Trace(#3; 10th race; 4-1)
Maidens on the turf usually provides a surprise or two, but one factor is key in any turf race… the jockey. Some are better than others when it comes to grass. Horatio Karamanos is among the best turf riders in Maryland. He rode Wildress Trace to two 3rd place finishes when she began her racing career on the Pimlico sod last year going 5 furlongs. Today’s distance (1 mile) should suit her just fine as she returns from a 7 month layoff but has been putting in solid morning workouts at Fair Hill. With 11 starters, the SHOW payoff should be nice… let’s just hope she’s ready to run today.
Finally, besides the Federico Tesio Stakes here at Pimlico, the very last Derby Prep is the Coolmore-Lexington at Keeneland. I’ll go with Tomcito. Good Luck!