Timonium Race Course opened yesterday with brisk business at the betting windows, superb weather, its own special State Fair ambience and the hint of danger that lurks when a full, 10-horse field rounds each sharp, banked turn of the half-mile oval.
Lines were so long at the mutuel windows that fans, som clutching stuffed animals they had won at the fair's midway, were shut out. Nevertheless, the opening-day crowd bet $862,947, an increase of about 5 percent from a year ago.
Tommy Turner, 26, the jockey who rode in this year's Preaknes (finishing ninth on Dash for Dotty), won two races, including the featured Bobby Hale Memorial Purse on Bob Tappmann.
Turner was the leading rider at Timonium in 1988. But he said h is going "to pick and choose" his mounts this year.
"I'm riding too many nice horses [such as double stakes winne Diamond Duo] and I don't want to get hurt," he said. "There are too many crazy riders and bad horses here."
Turner didn't have a mount in the seventh race when a typica Timonium pile-up occurred on the first turn.
Apprentice Freddy Castillo, riding Ditty Dottie, clipped heels wit another horse. Both he and his horse fell. Kenny McMillan, on Lady Polaris, fell over top of them. In the fracas, Joe Rocco snatched up his horse, Delta Crucis, so quickly, he wrenched his back and was taken to Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
Fortunately, McMillan, who rode in a later race, Castillo, wh canceled his remaining ride, and their mounts were not seriously injured.
In addition to Turner, two other jockeys rode a pair of winners Albert Delgado won the second and 11th races with Go For Bear and Commander J. R., respectively. Rafael Arroyave scored a riding double with No Holding David in the fourth race and Ducere in the eighth race. Both horses are trained by John Salzman Jr.
Salzman jumped out to an immediate lead in the traine standings.
But Larry Smith, 27, who grew up in the Timonium area, said h is going to make a conscious effort to try to win the title.
Smith, who has a 23-horse string for a variety of owners, won th first race on the opening card with Jake Stieger's Only Son. "I'm going to run two or three horses every day," Smith said.
He is also planning to run Big Big Affair, who was third last wee in the Waya Stakes at Saratoga, on Saturday in the $40,000-added Alma North Handicap. Weights for the race are expected to be released today and such fillies as Wide Country, Boxwood and John's Decision, last year's winner, are expected in the lineup.
Smith said he was introduced to racing as a youngster at th State Fair.
"That is the charm of Timonium," Smith said. "It is where so many horsemen and fans get their first taste of racing."
NOTES: Maryland race fans will be keeping a keen eye today on the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga. Secret Odds, who won his last two starts at Laurel by a combined margin of 16 1/2 lengths, takes on Tactical Advantage and England Expects in one of the best races of the five-week Spa meet. Unfortunately, Timonium fans won't be able to bet on the Hopeful. Instead, Timonium management is simulcasting the 10th race from Monmouth Park, which is a maiden claimer . . . Little Bold John, the third-ranked, money-winning Maryland bred of all time with nearly $2 million in earnings, tops today's five-horse Timonium feature.