Maryland bettors take 'Root' route 5-year-old is favorite in Mich. Mile 'Cap HORSE RACING

July 17, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Valley Crossing runs against better company, but Root Boy is the horse attracting quite a following among Maryland's race fans in older state-bred competition.

Today the 5-year-old is the favorite in the biggest race of his career -- the $200,000 Michigan Mile Handicap at Detroit Race Course.

A victory there could put Root Boy in the forefront for Maryland-bred Horse of the Year honors. The title is up for grabs since there has been no state-bred standout so far this year. Valley Crossing ranks fourth in the American Championship Racing Series after two second-place finishes in the Pimlico Special and Nassau County Handicap. But so far he hasn't had a major victory.

Root Boy's foray to Michigan is the second part of a Midwest trip that began about a month ago for the Rich Blue-owned, Louis Bernier-trained horse. In the $100,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs, Root Boy defeated graded stakes winners Discover, Flying Continental, Senor Tomas and Dignitas.

Proof of his popularity showed up on the Churchill Downs odds board. Laurel/Pimlico takes full-card commingled simulcasts on the Churchill races and the hometown fans ganged up on their state-bred horse -- 35 percent of the total money bet in the win pool was wagered on Root Boy and 52 percent of all the money wagered in Maryland on the race was bet on his horse, Blue said.

"I walked out of the paddock and he was 10-1 [on the board] The next time I looked up, he was 3-1," Blue said. The horse actually started as the favorite at 4.60-1 odds, thanks to Maryland fans.

Laurel/Pimlico management is tuned into Root Boy's sudde popularity. The track is simulcasting the Michigan Mile today as its 10th race. The race is being offered solely as a Maryland wagering event for local fans.

In the race, Root Boy must track down expected pacesette Candid Cameron, the second choice.

But his tactical speed and current sharpness make him a soli choice.

Blue, 38, has a small farm in Brooklandville and raised the col after he purchased his dam, Archdiocese, for $4,000 as a maiden at a Timonium sale.

Root Boy fractured a hind leg as a 3-year-old and missed a whol year's campaign. But after patient handling, he came back as a solid runner at 4 and now at 5 is at the height of his career.

Root Boy will be ridden in the Michigan Mile by Laurel jockey Tommy Turner, who won with him at Churchill Downs.

Laurel Pick Six

Starting tomorrow, Laurel will offer Pick Six wagering on its fourth through ninth races.

"It's being offered because a lot of fans have asked for it. It also helps bolster our simulcast package when we sell our signal out-of-state," said Jim Mango, a Laurel/Pimlico's senior vice president.

Miscellaneous

Four Maryland-based fillies and mares-- Green Darlin, Dress Optional, Final Deputy and Star Minister -- are entered tomorrow in the $150,000-added Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park. However, Star Minister is also cross-entered in a Laurel allowance race. . . . Laurel/Pimlico track operator Joe De Francis said he is urging both sides in the Maryland Million Committee-Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association dispute to sit down and discuss the matter. "I've been involved in my fair share of disputes and controversies during the last four years and I should certainly think these groups can reach some sort of reasonable compromise," De Francis said. The MTHA board has withdrawn its funding for the Oct. 9 Maryland Million, citing a need for more MTHA input concerning race conditions. . . . Tonight's 15-race Rosecroft card features two divisions of the $215,380 Colonial Trot and is part of a National Pick Five bet involving races from Yonkers and Greenwood raceways as well as Rosecroft and Northfield and Sportsman's Parks.

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