Jockey Craig Perret was in Pennsylvania on a hunting trip last week when his agent, Roger Sutton, began campaigning for a 1990 Eclipse Award.
Sutton knows some of the habits of Eclipse Award voters. Many of those who vote -- Daily Racing Form employees, the nation's racing secretaries and members of the National Turf Writers Association -- pay close attention to the performances of the horses they vote for but never look past the top of the standings for jockeys, trainers and owners when casting their ballots for those awards.
Sutton was making calls to say that Perret's record stands out over the competition for the jockey Eclipse title, and he makes the case this way:
"Craig has 53 stakes winners, and he needs only five more to break Jorge Velasquez's record for stakes winners in a single year," he said. "The amazing thing is that Velasquez broke the record with 239 stakes mounts. Craig got to 53 with only 170.
"Right now, Craig is third in the money-won standings. Gary Stevens, the leader, has $13-plus million [in money earned by his mounts] and Jose Santos is second with $12-plus million. Craig has $11-plus million.
"But look at the number of their mounts. Stevens has more than 1,300 and Santos has almost that many.
"Craig has fewer than 700.
"Another factor: Craig has 28 graded stakes wins. He has six Grade I wins, nine Grade 2 wins and 13 Grade 3 wins. I don't believe anybody's close to those figures."
Sutton's clincher seems to come when he talks about the most important winners this year that Perret has ridden.
"The Kentucky Derby [Unbridled], Coaching Club American Oaks [Charon] , Hampstead Handicap [Fantastic Find], the Travers [Rhythm] the Jerome Handicap [Housebuster] and the Breeders' Cup Sprint [Safely Kept] are all Grade I races," he said.
Sutton didn't mention it, but at the beginning of the year, Perret was the most sought-after jockey of all the big-names. He was the rider of Rhythm, who started out as the top 3-year-old contender. Then he wound up on Unbridled for his best performance in the Derby.
Until mid-year, he had his choice of Housebuster, the sprinting ace, or Safely Kept, the filly who had been voted the sprint champion in 1989.
"It's not a tough job, selling Perret," Sutton said. "I've been with him five years, and he had been careful not to take a lot of mounts even for a couple of years before I went with him."
If none of the facts can sway as voter, then Sutton has one final pitch:
"Santos won it [Eclipse Award] last year and Stevens is young. He'll win one one of these days. He's a cinch," Sutton said. "And Craig's not going to have many more chances. He's 39 and may not have another year like this."
Kim Boniface, 23, from Bel Air, won the Amateur Riders Club of America 1990 women's flat-race championship. She clinched it with a winning ride at Philadelphia Park.
She's the daughter of trainer Bill Boniface. She finished the year with 40 points. She was three points ahead of Liz McCarthy.
Among her winners, most of which came at American pari-mutuel tracks, was one at Timonium. All races were limited to amateur riders.
Allen's Prospect, the stallion at Country Life Farm in Bel Air, had another offspring win a race at Aqueduct last week, Richard's Lass. She had sensational workouts before winning and scored by 4 1/2 lengths as favorite. This one was bred by Allen Paulson, who owns the stallion, and is owned by Robert Perez.
With 10 winners in his first crop, Allen's Prospect is in fourth place in the national standings of sires of 2-year-olds. Meadowlake leads that list.
Edgar Prado, who was hospitalized for a kidney stone Oct. 21, has begun exercising horses and plans to return to riding in the afternoons this week.
Prado was the leader of all Laurel jockeys with 42 winners when sidelined. He's now fourth to Mike Luzzi who had 58 winners going into yesterday's card.
Colonel Hill, winner of the Devil's Bag Stakes in his first start, goes next in the $150,000 Maryland Juvenile Championship Dec. 8.