Edgar Prado waited late to win the riding crown at Pimlico Race Course yesterday. But track officials are still waiting for the only winner of a big Double Triple jackpot to step forward.
Highland Crystal's victory in the closing-day feature lifted Prado out of a tie with Mike Luzzi and made him Pimlico's top jockey for the third time. Such a title is highly coveted by most jockeys, but its trade-in value is worth exactly $145,257.60 less than one still-uncashed Double Triple ticket.
Unless no bettor picks at least the winner in the second half of the gimmick, state law mandates payout of the Double Triple on the last day of a meeting. When favorites filled the top three slots in the third race, first half of the bet, there were 1,133 live tickets, virtually assuring it would fall.
But when Big A.J., an obscure 23-1 shot, and Rollicking Cowboy (12-1) rallied to finish a respective second and third behind Quiet Island in the fifth race, there were no correct 11-5-9 exchanges. So officials, by rule, reverted to the 11-5-ALL combination, and the result was just one winner.
However, when the day ended, the winning Pimlico patron had not come forward. The bonanza could be collected as soon as tomorrow at Laurel, which opens its long fall/winter meet, or at Pimlico, which remains open as an intertrack outlet. A one-year limit is permitted before funds from winning tickets revert to the state.
Prado and Luzzi entered the 25th program of Pimlico's summer/fall meet with 29 winners each. Both were blanked in the first seven races. When Alae Rouge, the favorite in the eighth race, finished second with Luzzi aboard, Prado became the likeliest to break the tie. And when Highland Crystal, the 2-1 choice, was agreeable to Prado's early rating and surged to victory in the $18,500 feature, Prado only had to witness Princely Rooster, Luzzi up, fade on the final turn in the last race to clinch.
Carlos Garcia won the training title with 14 winners, one more than Frannie Campitelli and two more than Dale Capuano and Vinnie Blengs. It was the first title of any kind for Garcia, 50, an Argentine native who has been training in Maryland for 20 years.
"I sneaked by them in the last sixteenth-mile," Garcia said. Indeed, his stable only was a mild factor until coming alive in the latter stages of the meet.
Although attendance was up 1.2 percent over corresponding 1990 dates, handle was down by 5.0 percent, marking a downward trend for the fifth straight session at Pimlico or Laurel. Average daily attendance was 10,140, and average handle was $1,436,323.
Figures are measured against 10 dates from Pimlico and 15 from Laurel last year. All totals and averages include intertrack business.