LAUREL -- Apprentice Bill Mahorney Jr. rode his first Laurel Race Course winner yesterday, guiding Mt. Airy Dynasty ($20.20) to victory for trainer Leslie Glazier in the third race.
Maryland has a reputation for being the best place in racing for a good apprentice to campaign. Mahorney, 21, had ridden a couple of horses the day before.
Jockey agent Bobby Suggs is booking mounts for Mahorney, as he does for Mark Johnston, the star jockey in Maryland until his apprenticeship ended. Johnston is the nation's leader in races won and has a good chance to win the national apprentice title, although he is not doing so well now.
Kent Desormeaux was the latest to win the national apprentice championship, then go on to stardom.
Perhaps Suggs' biggest obstacle for Mahorney has been overcome. He rides today for two-time national trainer champion King Leatherbury, an advocate of using apprentices who ride well. Desormeaux was helped immensely by Leatherbury.
The agent said he called Leatherbury in quest of a mount, and the trainer said: "No, I'm putting a kid from Chicago on that horse."
That meant Leatherbury was using Mahorney, who came here from Chicago last week in hopes of catching on with Maryland trainers.
"I was doing real good at Arlington," Mahorney said of his campaign at Arlington International Racecourse. "I won 10 at Arlington and nine at Balmoral, and thought I would have a good meeting at Hawthorne.
"But [trainer] Bud Delp told me I ought to try Maryland, so I came here."
Delp called Leatherbury to recommend Mahorney, whose father was a good apprentice rider in 1964. He rode at Pimlico Race Course that fall, then returned to California.
"Dad won about 2,500 races, then became a trainer," Mahorney said. "He rode about 1,000 quarter-horse winners before trying the thoroughbreds, but wouldn't let me try them. I don't know why."
The elder Mahorney was a short, stocky rider when he campaigned at Pimlico, but his son is slender and doesn't seem likely to face a weight problem.
Another incentive for trainers to use Mahorney is that he has the apprentice allowance until mid-March 1991. He rode his fifth winner last March, and is permitted to ride with 5 fewer pounds than journeymen until the anniversary of the fifth winner.
Today, he rides Cold Rolled in the third race for trainer Nancy Alberts, Po Pete in the fourth for Leatherbury and Eventuality in the seventh for Joe Waunsch.