LAUREL -- Charlie Fenwick III came back from his back problems yesterday. If his performance is any indication, his backers will soon be back, too.
Fenwick, 17, was Maryland racing's top apprentice before suffering compressed and chipped vertebrae in a September training accident. After a four-month layoff, Fenwick accepted two mounts yesterday, winning with the second, Say Punch, after finishing far back on Camp Dance in the fifth race.
"It feels great," Fenwick said after the filly won the seventh by 12 lengths and paid $18.40 to win. "I've been back working horses about three or four weeks now, so I'm pretty fit."
"The jock improved this horse, what, 40 lengths?" trainer Frannie Campitelli said jokingly. Campitelli gave Fenwick the mount on Say Punch, who had lost her debut by 19 lengths. For Say Punch's second start yesterday, Campitelli fitted her with blinkers and treated her with the bleeder medication Lasix for the first time. "This should help Charlie get things going again right away," Campitelli said. "He's a good kid, a good rider."
Fenwick, son of prominent steeplechase trainer Charlie Fenwick Jr., said he caught up on his studies at Gilman School, where he is a junior. With his return to riding, he said he will resume a schedule that allows him to work horses most mornings and to ride afternoons.
The Laurel stewards yesterday granted Fenwick a 111-day extension to his apprenticeship, a customary action for "bugboys" who lose time to injury. He is now scheduled to lose his bug on April 28.
Mike Luzzi also returned yesterday, though his absence had been for only 10 days and was induced by suspension, not injury.
While he was away, Luzzi lost considerable ground to Edgar Prado in what had been a tight race atop the jockeys' standings. In a fitting return, Luzzi, riding Loan Impression, finished second by about two inches in the program opener. The race was won by One Two Punch and Prado, who holds a 98-81 lead.
NOTES: Lean times: Today's second race at Laurel has just 4 horses, and 2 other races on the program attracted just 5 each. . . . Go Hush Hush's win at $91 in the fifth race yesterday was such a surprise that no bettors had the correct triple combination. A $3 combination of 1-13-all returned $2,904.90; there were $38 worth of winning tickets sold. . . . Joe Rocco showed no outward sign of being slowed by a spill 6 days ago. The veteran jockey guided Ardmore Bay to win the third race yesterday, his first day back. . . . Saint Appeal, ridden by Greg Hutton, ran down E.B.F. Express in the final strides to win yesterday's ninth-race feature. E.B.F. Express subsequently was disqualified from second to third for bumping Alexis's David in the upper stretch. Hutton ended a riding double. . . . Campitelli won with another long shot yesterday, sending out Quiet Island ($34.40) to a narrow win in the last race. Quiet Island gave Mario Pino a riding double. . . . Stable couplings will be able to run in
Daily Double races in Maryland soon. The Maryland Racing Commission approved the rule change Wednesday. . . . The commission also paved the way for the Pick-7 to replace the Double Triple at Laurel. It could happen as early as next month. . . . Jet Stream, one of Maryland's top handicap horses early last year before being sidelined by injury, makes a return to the races today at Philadelphia Park. He is scheduled to meet 2 other Maryland runners, Silano and Pulverizing. . . . Silver Tango heads a field of 8 fillies and mares in tomorrow's Francis Scott Key Handicap. . . . King Leatherbury, third-leading trainer in wins in North American history, hit the 4,800-victory milestone on Dec. 31, according to Daily Racing Form statistics.