LAUREL -- For years, Maryland race-goers have known Mario Pino and front-runners to be a dangerous combination.
So when Pino notched his 2,500th career victory at Laurel Race Course yesterday, it was only fitting that it came in wire-to-wire fashion.
Have You Testified, trained by Richard Delp, led throughout the second race, then needed all the urging Pino could muster to hold off Lusty Leader by a diminishing nose.
"At the eighth pole, I thought I was going to win," Pino said. "But then I saw the horse coming on the inside and I said, 'Oh, man.' But he's a game old horse. He gave me a little extra.
"I'm real happy to win this one for Mr. Delp. We've won a lot of races together."
Pino also won yesterday's eighth race aboard Ligature, giving him a 23-22 lead over Mike Luzzi atop the current Laurel standings.
Although all-time rankings are not up to date, Pino, 29, is believed to be anywhere from the 90th to 125th jockey in North American racing history to reach the 2,500-victory milestone. One of the steadiest riders on the Maryland circuit, the Wilmington, Del., native won his first race at Bowie Race Course in 1979. Although he has not won a Maryland riding title since the early 1980s, he is invariably in the top 10.
No. 2,500 came nearly four hours before Good Looking Terri was up in the final strides to win the $50,000 Smart Angle Stakes for Maryland-bred 2-year-old fillies.
Good Looking Terri is named for Terri Bracciale, wife of Vince Bracciale Jr., who retired as a standout jockey in January 1990. After the filly ran well in her first two starts, winning once and finishing second once, Bracciale, who bred and owned the filly, sold her to the Fortunate Stable for $70,000.
Dale Capuano trains for the stable, which is comprised of three equal partners -- Lou Ulman, Costas Triantifilos and Randy Williams.
Good Looking Terri, ridden by Clarence "Jo Jo" Ladner, caught the odds-on favorite, Gala Gold Digger, after trailing by about six lengths as the field turned into the stretch.
"I was gaining, but I didn't know if she'd get there before the wire," said Ladner.
The winner's share of $30,000 immediately helps soothe Fortunate's initial investment. The stable could recoup it and more on Maryland Million day -- Good Looking Terri could well be the favorite for the $100,000 USF&G Maryland Lassie on the Sept. 8 Million program, which Capuano said would be her next start.