Trainer Robb goes 4-for-4 at Marlboro

November 04, 1993|By Pete Bielski | Pete Bielski,Contributing Writer

UPPER MARLBORO -- It may not be the Breeders' Cup, but to trainer John Robb, racing at Marlboro is a once-a-year occasion that makes him giddy.

For the fourth time in as many tries, Robb trained the winning horse in the $40,000 Home Team Sports Marlboro Cup. He Is Risen rose to the occasion yesterday, winning the race for the second straight year.

The 5-year-old son of Dixieland Band disposed of heavily favored Ibex and coasted to a seven-length victory for owner Arnold Heft. He Is Risen, with just one win in his last 11 starts, paid $6.20 as the second choice. It boosted his lifetime earnings to more than $350,000.

Ebonizer rallied late for second; Riskey Red was third. Ibex, the 3-to-5 favorite, battled for three-fourths of a mile but faded to fourth in the five-horse field.

"I've been pointing him for this race all along," Robb said. "I always like to have someone [in his barn] ready for this race. I'd say it'sworked out well."

Robb saddled He Is Risen to victory last year and had wins from Baldski's Choice in 1989 and 1990. Both took a liking to the half-mile track with its tight turns and short straightaways.

For Marlboro, the two-day meeting attracted more than 11,000 fans and generated about $700,000 in handle. The average attendance was the lowest in the six years of the "Revival at Marlboro." The average handle was the lowest since 1989.

Jockey Walter Cullum won a $1,000 bonus for winning the riding competition. He rode four winners and earned 35 points, edging Alberto Delgado, who had five wins and 33 points.

As usual, Dave Johnson called the races, adding his signature "And down the stretch they come," a handful of times. Johnson works the Meadowlands and has numerous national jobs, but has never missed the Marlboro assignment though it's just three days before the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita.

"I love it here," Johnson said. "This is racing at its roots. The fans are lucky because they can get so close to the action. Go to other tracks like Santa Anita and Aqueduct and there's a barrier. I like this."

Trainer Victor Espinosa, 52, achieved a racing double, of sorts. His mare, Angel of Honor, won a claiming race last week, then came back this week to win a starter allowance. Angel, who does her best work against lesser kinds at Charles Town, beat several Maryland-based sprinters to take yesterday's sub-feature event.

"This is great," said Espinosa, a former rider who did his best at Marlboro. "I like the spirit of this place. The atmosphere is a little lighter and everyone is glad to be here. It's especially nice when you win two."

Marlboro, which attracted mostly low-level claimers, escaped any serious on-track problems. The lone exception came in the ** third race, when favored Dancing Magic broke down entering the stretch. The filly, with Kenneth McMillan aboard, managed to pull up and avoided a fall.

Dancing Magic was a rare failure for trainer Lawrence Smith, who took the training title with three wins and 18 points.

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