LAUREL -- After rain made the racing strip sloppy and caused the scratches of two significant rivals, the Maryland-bred gelding, Jet Stream, became the big name in the Walter Haight Handicap yesterday.
Originally second choice in a field of seven, he went off afavorite among five in the $54,150 event over 1 1/8 miles at Laurel Race Course. Jet Stream won with tactics decided upon in early afternoon by jockey Mario Pino and trainer Jack Mobberley.
Most of the gelding's races this year and last were distance events, and he raced off the pace. He usually made up ground late, and, over the past two years, had won seven races with rallies.
"But with the speed, Silano and Due North, out of ther[scratched], and our horse coming off two sprints, we decided to go for the lead," said Mobberley, who trains Jet Stream for his wife, Gretchen.
"If you're on the front end, then some horse has to run better tbeat you."
None managed to run better.
With Pino aboard, Jet Stream got the lead easily. He first turneback Midas, then Macau and finally Learned Jake, who held on for second place, 5 1/4 lengths behind the winner.
At one point on the backstretch, Learned Jake, the seconchoice, found himself behind several horses and had no room when he seemed ready to close ground.
Once Learned Jack got clear, near the seven-eighths pole, JeStream had built up too much of an advantage.
Midas finished third, followed by Halo Hansom and Macau.
"When Silano and Due North came out of the race, there was npace in there," said Pino. "When I didn't have to use him, turning for home I knew they wouldn't beat him."
Jet Stream rarely races in anything but stakes events. His onlother victory this year was in the John B. Campbell Handicap at Pimlico Race Course in April.
"If he comes out of this race OK, he'll probably run next in thCongressional," Mobberley said, referring to the $100,000 Congressional Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on Dec. 29.
Jet Stream picked up $32,490 in purse money and pushed hicareer earnings to $313,635 for the Mobberleys, who bred him at their farm in Howard County.
The winner's time was 1 minute, 50 1/5 seconds on a track ratesloppy. Jet Stream paid $4.60.
E. William Furey, former chairman of the Maryland Racing Commission, was at Laurel yesterday. He had undergone quintuple bypass heart surgery.
Furey said he still is interested in being part of a group trying tbuy Rosecroft Raceway and Delmarva Downs, the state's harness tracks.