Johnston steers all types to victory

November 26, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

When owner-trainer Josephine Owens hoisted Mark Johnston aboard the maiden claiming filly Skating Jewel for the 10th race yesterday at Laurel Race Course, she told him, "You rode two Cadillacs. Now you'll ride a Jeep."

Johnston's two previous winners, Buffels in the $60,000 Straight Deal Stakes, and Sunnys Golden Halo, in a $20,000 allowance race, were "the Cadillacs."

But Johnston and his mounts were in such rare form yesterday that even "the Jeep," Skating Jewel, got up for a victory at 9.30-1 odds.

Johnston's three-win roll started in the eighth race aboard Owens-trained Sunnys Golden Halo. Sent off the third choice at 6.80-1 odds, the 3-year-old filly stalked pace-setter Shafta, then passed her in the stretch and won by three lengths over the closer Feather Necklace.

It was the filly's third win for Owens since she haltered her for $8,500 from trainer David Cross, who is now competing at Santa Anita Park.

"She's a temperamental filly, sulky one day and aggressive the next," Owens said. "I just let her do what she wants. I guess it takes a moody, broody female to understand one."

Buffels is another ex-claimer who has moved up through the ranks. The 4-year-old filly won her first stakes yesterday when she came from off the pace under Johnston and beat Jazzy One by a neck in the feature.

Overlooked at 16-1 odds, Buffels returned $35.80 for a $2 bet. The horse was claimed for $12,000 by current owner, Baird Brittingham, former president of Delaware Park, who lives in Trappe on the Eastern Shore.

Brittingham wasn't at Laurel, "but I can guarantee you he's at The Shoals [Cambridge OTB parlor] and he's jumping up and down," trainer King Leatherbury said.

Johnston's three winning mounts earned $50,934, providing a $5,093.40 payday for the 23-year-old jockey.

Prado OK after spill

It was a good news-bad news kind of Thanksgiving Day at the track.

While Johnston excelled, leading rider Edgar Prado was catapulted off Clint's Coming during the second race when the 3-year-old gelding fractured his right ankle near the sixteenth pole. Prado was taken away in an ambulance and Clint's Coming was euthanized, the 16th horse to be destroyed during a Laurel/Pimlico card this year.

Prado sprained his ankle in the same leg that he broke early in the summer at Pimlico.

Inter-track future uncertain

Track operator Joe De Francis said he is still studying figures concerning the inter-track operation of afternoon thoroughbred simulcasts at Rosecroft Raceway and nighttime harness simulcasts at Laurel/Pimlico.

"From our third-quarter statement, it looks like we're losing too much money on the deal," De Francis said. "For example, we spend $6,000 a week just to clean Laurel and Pimlico at night for Rosecroft [televised races]. There are other hidden expenses such as our insurance rates going up."

He added that he's inclined to notify Colt Enterprises, owners of Rosecroft/Delmarva, that he wants to shut down the inter-track operation. "But I'll know for sure, probably in a week or so," he said.

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