LAUREL -- About 3:30 p.m. yesterday, Gregg McCarron was supposed to boot Noholmes Barred out of the starting gate in the $43,200 Dancing Count Stakes.
Instead, the 43-year-old jockey was getting his ankle X-rayed at a local hospital.
About 90 minutes earlier, McCarron fell off Jessica's Turn, when the filly stumbled at the start of the fifth race. She stepped on McCarron's right leg.
Larry Saumell filled in for McCarron in the stakes. After getting "the beating of his life" from Saumell, the 3-year-old colt lasted by a neck over Golden Phase. The 7-5 favorite, Rainbow Prospect, tired after setting the pace and finished third.
"The horse [Noholmes Barred] hadn't been giving us enough," said Graham Motion, assistant to trainer Bernie Bond. That explained why Saumell went to the whip. From the final turn to the wire, Saumell hit the horse left-handed 27 times. It worked. Noholmes Barred won his first race since August.
Last weekend, the Bond barn was shut out when two short-priced favorites, More Paces and Gala Prospector, lost Laurel stakes. So yesterday's victory was especially sweet.
"Before today, we ran in six stakes since the beginning of the year, and had three seconds and three thirds," Motion said. "So it's nice to win one."
Noholmes Barred ran the six furlongs in 1 minute, 11 seconds, paying $12, $6 and $2.80. He was the 5-1 fourth choice, along with his stablemate, Voyage Sixty. Voyage Sixty finished last.
Golden Phase, who won the Patriot Stakes last weekend at Philadelphia Park, returned $4.60 and $2.80. Rainbow Prospect paid $2.60.
Bond was not at the track yesterday because of the illness of his wife, Betty, who is hospitalized.
By early evening, McCarron was at his home near Mount Airy.
"Physically I'm fine, but mentally I'm about to jump out the window," he said. McCarron had no broken bones, but his ankle is bruised and required a couple of stitches. The spill cost him the chance at the $2,500 winning jock's mount.
McCarron was sidelined for about a month last fall with two compressed vertebrae in his back, but came back and won stakes.
McCarron said Noholmes Barred is eager when he trains in the mornings, but still runs green in his races.
NOTES: Laurel has abandoned the Pick 3, which was offered in the fourth through sixth races. Track manager Jim Mango said the small pool in an exotic bet that offered a lot of combinations resulted in many unusual payoffs. "We got a lot of complaints from the fans, so we're dropping it unless enough people tell us they want it back," Mango said. . . . The track gave part of its gate yesterday to the Maryland Council for Riding Therapies. Kitsi Christmas, president of the organization, said there are 23 therapeutic riding centers in the state that belong to association. . . . When The Racing Times folded Friday, five local writers, handicappers and clockers were out of jobs. Clem Florio, the paper's handicapper who lives in Baltimore, hopes to find work in radio. He said the Times sold about 800 papers each day at Laurel. "It was a joy to work for that paper," he said. "We put out a quality product. I think it's a real loss for racing.". . . . Dancing Count, the stallion, is now 24 years old, but is still breeding mares. "He's a little arthritic, but his fertility is good, and basically his health is fine," said Jim Steele, manager at Shamrock Farm in Woodbine, where Dancing Count is at stud. "He bred 27 mares last year, and got 22 in foal. We plan to breed him to about 20 mares this year," Steele added. Dancing Count is the broodmare sire of 3-year-old champion Hansel. . . . More than 700 2-year-olds recently have been nominated to the Maryland Million, and 400 nominations from the 1991 foal crop have been received.