LAUREL -- John Alecci admits he combines two unusual occupations: bricklayer and racehorse owner.
Yesterday he adhered to a typical schedule. He spent the morning at the site of a nursing home near Catonsville where he supervised the crew of his family-owned contracting company.
By mid-afternoon, Alecci was at Laurel Race Course in time to see Bisher finish second in the fourth race.
"That means we're 0-for-17," Alecci said. "It's the longest losing streak we've had in quite awhile."
That skid ended about two hours later, when Four Punch, the second-longest price in a five-horse field, scored a wire-to-wire victory in the $16,000 feature.
Earlier, the 4-year-old filly had thrown some unexpected drama into the day's activities. On the van ride from Pimlico Race dTC Course, where Alecci stables his 16-horse string, she banged up her chest and Alecci had tried to scratch her.
No go, said the state vet. She looked fine to him.
Alecci, 34, his 59 year-old father, Emilio, and their trainer, Karen Patty, make up one of Maryland racing's most unusual and successful teams.
Last year, the stable won 43 races and more than $500,000 in purses, operating strictly as a claiming outfit. The Aleccis made more than their share of notable claims. Miss Protege cost $8,500, earned over $80,000 and placed in the Geisha Handicap. Sitting On Top, Ameri Allen, Well Wrapped, My Sweet Alesia and Alamance County are other success stories.
Emilio Alecci, because of an arthritic back, no longer works for the masonry company he and his wife, Amelia, founded 25 years ago.
Instead, he and Patty are at Pimlico at 6 a.m., supervising the string of 16 runners.
"Dad oversees what's going on, and makes sure there is constant attention paid to the horses' legs," John Alecci said. "That's one business principle we follow. We want to be there to see what's going on with everything we own."
John Alecci prides himself on making some unusual claims. "I study the breeding, watch the horses in the paddock, and keep my own speed figures," he said.
"Four Punch got a good figure, but she was quitting in her races. I thought she needed Lasix."
Alecci graduated from Calvert Hall and studied to be an accountant at Loyola College. He has always been close to his father.
"In fact, we bought a 40-acre farm near Hunt Valley and built two houses on it," Alecci said. "One for me and my family and the other's for dad. We have dinner together almost every night and have knock-down-and-drag-out fights about what's going on with the horses.
"We go home when my wife decides she's had enough of horse talk."
NOTES: Senate Bill 392, which would permit off-track betting on Maryland horse races, formally was introduced in the State Senate Monday night by Senate president Thomas V. "Mike" Miller. The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on OTB Thursday, Feb. 6, at 1 p.m. . . . Trainer Bill Boniface claimed back his old stakes runner, Le Machou, out of yesterday's seventh race. "My granddaughter would have killed me," he said, "if I hadn't gotten him back." Boniface claimed the horse for the animal's previous owner, Thomas Webb. Webb lost the horse for $35,000 over a year ago, but got him back yesterday for $16,000. Le Machou finished last after showing his typical early speed. "I beat Fire Plug twice with this horse," Boniface said. "He's the fastest horse I've ever trained for a half mile."