LAUREL -- Binnie and Ed Houghton had more important concerns in recent days than rivalries and horse races.
So when Forry Cow How, carrying the Houghtons' Buckingham Farm silks, rallied to win the $60,000 Star de Naskra Stakes at Laurel Race Course yesterday, their elation was well-founded -- for more than one reason.
Jen Houghton, 24-year-old daughter of the Chestertown couple, was injured seriously in a riding accident Dec. 24 at Fair Hill Race Course. "She broke three vertebrae, and we were told there was a chance she might be paralyzed," said Binnie. "But she had successful surgery, and it looks like everything is going to be all right. This has been such an emotional time for us. Winning this race caps things off. It's just wonderful."
Forry Cow How, named for a picturesque sheep farm in New Zealand, overtook the even-money favorite, Haymaker, in the final 70 yards, then went on to defeat Gala Spinaway by a half-length.
Before the seven-furlong race for Maryland-bred 3-year-olds, most eyes were focused on Haymaker and Colonel Hill, the $1.90-1 second choice. After just two meetings, the pair had developed quite a rivalry.
That matchup quickly cooled, however. Haymaker, on the lead all the way, drew off from Colonel Hill turning into the stretch and opened a clear lead. Then, Forry Cow How shifted outside, and he surged past Haymaker. Gala Spinaway, rallying inside, also went past Haymaker.
"At the quarter-pole, I looked up, and Marco [Castaneda, on Haymaker] still had a lot of horse," said winning rider Joe Rocco. "So I said I'd better go if I want to get him."
"The last 50 yards, he just fff-hew," Castaneda said of his mount.
The victory came in just the third career start for Forry Cow How. He had finished second, then first, in two maiden races. He paid $17.60 as fourth choice in a field of five.
The Houghtons, who bought Forry Cow How for $6,000, have two old Maryland favorites turned out at Buckingham: Port Conway Lane and Castelets.
* Mark Johnston, with 320 victories, was the winningest jockey at Laurel and Pimlico race courses in 1990. He won 249 of his races during his apprenticeship, which ended July 25.
Jockey and trainer leaders at Pimlico and Laurel race courses in 1990:
Mark Johnston 320
Edgar Prado 305
Joe Rocco 191
Mario Pino 188
Mike Luzzi 169
(200 or more mounts)
Rick Wilson .215
King Leatherbury 154
Frannie Campitelli 73
Dale Capuano 71
Howard Wolfendale 61
Carlos Garcia 60
(100 or more starters)
Ben Perkins .340
John Hartsell .300
Howard Wolfendale .300