Struggling McCarron returns for Fritchie

February 12, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Chris McCarron hasn't ridden at a Maryland track since he won the Preakness last spring on Pine Bluff.

But the 37-year-old rider, who first rose to national prominence on the local circuit, returns tomorrow to ride California-based Devil's Orchid in the $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap.

When entries were drawn yesterday, the race had attracted quite a competitive field. Two other top out-of-town horses -- Laramie Moon and Quick Mischief -- are in the 11-horse lineup and face last year's winner, Wood So, as well as Stem The Tide, Makin Faces, Femma, Ritchie Trail, Moon Mist, Gaylord's Annie and My Treasure.

"We're coming off a tough couple of weeks," said Scotty McClellan, McCarron's agent. "We've ridden a lot of heavy favorites in big stakes [at Santa Anita] and gotten beat.

"Bertando was 1-5 [odds] and finished second [in the Charles H. Strub Stakes]. Pacific Squall was 3-5 and was second in the La Canada Stakes. Then Heart of Joy was 3-5 and was third in the Monrovia Handicap. Paseana was 3-5 [in the Grade I Santa Maria Handicap] and finished second. Then Mountain Cat finished eighth at 5-2 odds in the San Vicente Breeders' Cup."

Richard Eng, Santa Anita's publicist, said, "It looked like Chris was going to make a zillion dollars in about 10 days, but in each race, his big horse was upset."

Despite the recent bad luck, McCarron still leads all U.S. riders in the money-won department (through Feb. 7) and is fifth in the Santa Anita standings.

McClellan said McCarron will probably ride only one other horse on the Fritchie card. "Coming to Maryland was sort of a last-minute deal," the agent said. "First the trainer [Dick Mandella] was coming with the horse. Then he had trouble getting transportation and wasn't coming. Then he heard [trainer] Neil Drysdale had lined up a plane for his mare, Laramie Moon, and he got on that flight. We expect Devil's Orchid to run well. She's always tough."

When reached in California yesterday, Mandella said he was not coming to Laurel tomorrow, but is staying at Santa Anita to saddle his top 3-year-old filly, Likable Style, in a Grade I California race.

"But my assistant, Richard Baltas, is at Laurel. He said the mare shipped fine. She ran well in the slop in her last start [second in the Santa Monica Handicap]. So we're not worried if the track is wet. She can handle it," Mandella said.

He added that Devil's Orchid, second in the 1991 Barbara Fritchie, missed last year's race because of an injury.

NOTES: Montbrook, the 3-year-old colt owned by Izzy Cohen that won his first start by 13 1/2 lengths at Laurel yesterday, was a $260,000 purchase out of last year's Ocala (Fla.) Breeders' Sale. . . The Senate Finance committee passed the commingling corrections bill at a voting session on Wednesday. The measure could come up to a full vote on the Senate floor next week. Passage of the bill in the General Assembly will allow Laurel to take full-card simulcasts of Gulfstream, Santa Anita and Oaklawn races. The House Ways and Means committee has yet to vote on the measure. . . Rick Wilson was at Aqueduct on Wednesday. He rode first-time starter Northern Belief to a three-length victory in a $24,000 maiden race. The filly is a half sister to Maryland stallion Northern Wolf, who stands at Lehr Jackson's Corbett Farm in Monkton. . . Anne Arundel County Police have re-opened the investigation into the accident that caused the recent death of Laurel traffic guard Charles Dixon. Dixon was hit by a pick-up driven by another Laurel employee about six weeks ago, and died late last week.

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