FAIR HILL -- Another McCarron has surfaced as a jockey with a promising future -- only this time over jumps.
Matthew McCarron, too big at 130 pounds to follow in the flat-racing stirrup leathers of his dad, recently retired Gregg McCarron, who won more than 2,500 races, and his uncle, Chris McCarron, who is in the Hall of Fame, rode three winners yesterday on the nine-race Fair Hill steeplechase card.
Among his victories: a well-judged come-from-behind ride on Forty Four Thunder in the three-mile James Stump Memorial over timber, McCarron's first win in a race sanctioned by the National Steeplechase Association. He followed that with another jump-race win aboard Port Micou in a maiden hurdle and earlier had won a flat race restricted to amateur riders.
"As long as I'm an apprentice, I plan to stay amateur," McCarron said. "Of course, that might take another five years."
McCarron started competing in amateur flat races in 1987, but didn't begin to ride seriously over jumps until this spring. He previously had won a pair of point-to-points in Virginia for Alicia Murphy, trainer of Forty Four Thunder.
Murphy said yesterday's victory "was an emotional one." The race is named after her brother, who died from injuries incurred in a Fair Hill race during the 1970s.
McCarron, 22, gallops horses at Laurel Race Course in the mornings for veteran trainer Vinnie Blengs, then rides for Murphy and trainer Charlie Fenwick in the afternoons.
He shared top billing yesterday with Jeff Teter, the three-time national jump champion, who also won three races, including a victory in the featured Miles Valentine Novice Stakes aboard Quadrigeminal, part of the 8-5 favored entry trained by Janet Elliot.
Teter won a hard-fought stretch duel over Victoria Schlesinger on Fenwick-trained Double Darn. Former Maryland flat rider Charlie Fenwick III finished third on Pyjama Parade.
The race was not without incident. Blythe Miller, the leading NSA rider until yesterday, fell off after her horse landed oddly three fences from home. Miller was not hurt.
Two horses, Noble Connection and early pace-setter Bail Denied, were pulled up. Bail Denied slipped on the hard ground after landing over a fence in front of the stands the first time around. Another horse, Go Panther, part of the Elliot entry, was outdistanced.
Highweight Key To A Miracle finished a well-beaten fifth.
Teter's other two wins came aboard Tall Choice in a claiming hurdle and on Timmy Flynn in an allowance jumping race.
Two jockeys, Brooks Durkee and Keith O'Brien, fell in the eighth race. Durkee was not hurt, but O'Brien was moved from the course by ambulance "and could have a broken leg," said course manager Gregg Morris.
Morris said he was pleased with yesterday's crowd, which was near capacity for the tiny track. "The card held up amazingly well despite the hard ground," he said. "I thought there might be more scratches."