LAUREL -- Penelope Keating has had enough adventures in the horse business to fill a book.
She has ridden point-to-points, taught beginners, showed hunters and spent the good part of the past 30 years horse trading.
"I came here from England thinking I'd do America in a year, then go to Australia, marry a sheepherder and spend the rest of my life with 'The Man from Snowy River,' " she said.
Instead, she married Thomas Keating IV, a lawyer from Centreville, and has raised three children.
Today Mrs. Keating reaches new heights in her equine career.
Hooliganisim, a horse she bred, raised and owns in partnership with Philadelphia lawyer Larry Hoyle, starts in the $200,000 General George Stakes. Mrs. Keating incorrectly spelled "hooliganism" on the horse's registration form. "Spelling has never been one of my strong points," she said.
"He is the first stakes winner I've bred. It is the first graded stakes I've ever run in. I go numb thinking he could win $120,000 in one afternoon," she said.
Hooliganisim probably is the only starter in today's race to run for a maiden $8,500 claiming tag and finish off the board.
The horse was so slow that his original trainer told her he wouldn't do in Maryland, that he would have to go to Charles Town to win a race.
"I had already contacted a trainer there, and he had even entered him in a race, when I decided to give him to Fred [Groves, his current trainer] and try just a few more times in Maryland," Mrs. Keating said.
In a stunning turnaround, Hooliganisim went from bottom-rung maiden claimer to stakes winner of more than $225,000.
"I can't say enough good things about Fred," Mrs. Keating said. "The horse was slow breaking from the gate. When he did break, he'd go sideways and he had cuts in his mouth. Fred studied the films of his many bad races, got an excellent exercise boy, Richard Hines, to re-school him, and made the horse happy."
Mrs. Keating joined forces with Hoyle four years ago. "I had three horses -- Hooliganisim, who was then just a yearling; his dam, Manhattan Meadows, and a German dressage horse named Grinzing. I needed a place to keep them. I thought I could manage Larry's farm which was nearby. He said he wanted a partner, not a manager. So that's how we started our current racing and breeding operation."
Hooliganisim is her first foal.
NOTES: Bud Delp, who runs the favorite, Sunny Sunrise, in the General George, thinks Senor Speedy is the horse to beat. "I saw him on the track yesterday morning, and he looked so good, he scared me," Delp said. . . . Rick Wilson followed his stakes victory with Dr. Unright at Aqueduct on Saturday by riding two winners yesterday at Laurel, including the feature race on Blandy. . . . Wilson rides Surely Six on Saturday in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The 3 year-old colt races on Lasix for the first time and is aiming for the Florida Derby. . . . The first starter handicap, sponsored by the Maryland Million, drew six starters. It will be run today as the eighth race.