LAUREL -- In racing, as in most things, it's business before friends. So when Jet Stream runs today, Mario Pino will find himself driving home instead of riding what he calls "the best horse in Maryland."
Owner-trainer Jack Mobberley said unusual circumstances led to Edgar Prado getting the mount for today's $60,000 Native Dancer Handicap at Laurel Race Course, but that won't preclude Pino from feeling "a little odd" about the situation.
"It does hurt inside," said Pino. "We've done good with Jet Stream and a lot of horses. But he's their horse. I understand that. It's the business."
Mobberley said that after Jet Stream finished a troubled second in a recent Laurel allowance race, he believed the horse would have to carry only "about 112" pounds.
"I told Mario he'd be weighted right out of the race," Mobberley said. "He can only get down to 114, and that's cutting it thin. So I went ahead and began looking for a qualified rider who could make the weight.
"That was the only motivation behind the change. As far as I'm concerned, Mario's a first-class guy. But if Edgar wins on him, I guess I'm obliged to keep riding him."
Therein lies the dilemma for Pino, or any jilted jockey in his position: He wants Jet Stream to do well -- but if he does, the chances of regaining the mount become slimmer with every race.
Except for the first four of his 21 starts, and another when Pino was suspended, Jet Stream always has been ridden by Pino. The 5-year-old has won eight times, earning $344,685.
"I can't think of a better horse in the state," said Pino. "He's vTC coming into this race better than ever. He's going to run good, and I think he'll win."
For the past 10 years, Pino has been one of the circuit's most consistent riders. There has been such turnover that Pino is the only rider in Laurel's current top 10 from the same list three years ago.
Although Jet Stream is weighted 1 pound below Reputed Testamony in today's 1 1/8 -mile race, Jet Stream is the probable favorite.
NOTES: Maryland Racing Commission members John H. Mosner Jr. and Ordell Braase have been reappointed to three-year terms by Gov. William Donald Schaefer. Mosner initially was appointed in 1987, Braase in 1984. . . . Apprentice Calixto Juarez has been suspended seven days for his ride aboard Winged Demon in Thursday's sixth race. The penalty begins today. . . . Nine 3-year-olds are entered in tomorrow's $50,000 Private Terms Stakes. . . . A 10-race program, making up a January snow-out, will be run Monday.