Julie Krone, an old friend, bailed trainer Charlie "Junior" Hadry out yesterday when another friend, Chris Antley, let Hadry down.
Krone was a late replacement for Antley aboard Missy White Oak, a 43-1 long shot, in the $100,000 Chesapeake Bay Maryland Lassie sixth race. She rode the 2-year-old filly to a stunning Maryland Million victory at Pimlico Race Course.
Krone hung back in fourth and third places early before coming on to win by a half-length over Come On Spring.
Missy White Oak paid $89 to win over six furlongs. And Krone, who used to ride at Pimlico and Laurel before moving on to New Jersey and New York, wound up riding yesterday in four straight races.
Hadry was ecstatic over Krone's performance in the clutch, but shook his head in wonderment over Antley's failure to show up.
"I'm upset about it," said Hadry. "Chris is a friend of mine and I just hope the reason I was given [Antley's mother being in a car accident] is the real one. It certainly leaves you asking some questions."
Hadry said that his father, also named Charlie Hadry, got a telephone call at noon yesterday informing him that Antley would not be at Pimlico to ride. (The elder Hadry is Charles H.; his son is Charles J.)
Hadry said Krone told him that Antley's mother had been in an accident in South Carolina, where she lives.
"When I found out Chris wasn't coming, I looked at the program and asked Julie if she would ride for me," Hadry said. "I knew she would ride for me any time. We go way back. Her brother works for my father and I've known her a long time."
The car accident also was the official explanation given by Pimlico officials for Antley's absence yesterday. Phone calls to his agent in New York and a relative in South Carolina went unanswered.
But Hadry and breeder-owner Gil Hahn weren't sure of the reason.
Hahn said: "I've heard six different stories why Chris wasn't here. I heard about the wreck and I heard he was sick. I'm not sure what happened."
Even Hahn was shocked by the Maryland Million victory.
"A blind hog finds an acorn every now and then," said Hahn before rushing off to catch a flight to London. "The thing I like most about this horse is her mother, Miss White Oak. She was crazy but she was the fastest thing on four legs. She got out of the gate so fast that people thought she was cheating. But she was temperamental and had problems at the gate."
The fourth race yesterday resulted in some misty eyes around Pimlico, when former track owner Ben Cohen was seen leading the 2-year-old, Coolin It, back to the winner's circle after its 7 1/4 -length victory in the $100,000 Crown Central Petroleum Maryland Nursery. Coolin It officially races in the name of Cohen's wife, Zelda.
Trainer Sonny Hine said of Cohen and the easy victory: "It's great to see the owner lead his horse back after winning a race like this. What a thrill after all these years."
In the first steeplechase race in the six years of the Maryland Million, Jeff Teter rode Make Azilian to a one-length victory over Caveat Fumator in the $50,000 Ryland Homes Handicap for 4-year-olds and up.
Make Azilian, a 7-year-old gelding, ran third and fourth most of the 2 1/16-mile race over national fences. Then the horse passed early leader Midnight Entry for the lead and held off Caveat Fumator.
Teter said: "We thought we'd break it out early and then stay handy with the leaders. I was three or four lengths back as we ran around the clubhouse turn. We were bothered a bit on the backside, but then we got a good jump and were in front."
The steeplechase race was second on yesterday's 11-race card.
Brenda Jordan looked as if she was taking a ride in the park aboard Cool Brilliance in the first race yesterday, even though she had to come with a rush to win by a nose over Chester Peekin.
Jordan never used the whip in the stretch but still came from fifth place to capture the Maryland Million ARCA Amateur race for 3-year-olds and up over 1 1/16 miles.
Jordan said of the 4-year-old gelding: "The horse did it on his own. I just steered him around the track. Going up the stretch, I thought we were going to win."