An up and-down finale for Prado

December 27, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

A couple of minutes after Edgar Prado won the Congressional Handicap at Laurel Race Course yesterday, the 26-year-old jockey was on the phone to the stewards explaining why he shouldn't be disqualified.

It was not a great final day at Laurel for Prado, who was disqualified earlier on the card and could be suspended by the Laurel stewards after impeding Albert Delgado on Golan High in the fifth race with Pucker. Prado finished first, but was placed fifth after interfering with Delgado.

Prado switches his tack today to Aqueduct, where he is named on five mounts and is expected to compete throughout the winter. A Laurel suspension could hurt his New York debut.

But at least the stewards sided with Prado in the Congressional.

Steve Hamilton, the rider on runner-up Greatsilverfleet in the $75,000 stakes, claimed that Prado on Northern Launch had forced him into the rail going into the first turn of the 10-furlong race.

"What am I supposed to do? Stand up in the middle of the track? He [Hamilton] had plenty of room," Prado said.

The stewards agreed, and Northern Launch, a 4-year-old colt that once ran for an $8,500 claiming tag, had earned his first stakes victory.

It was the 15th stakes win of the year at a Maryland track for Prado, good enough to tie Mike Luzzi for stakes victories.

Prado had another excellent year in Maryland, although his prowess in stakes didn't match 1991 when he won the Washington D.C. International on Leariva or 1992 when he won the Philip H. Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park with Jolie's Halo and piloted Maryland-bred Horse of the Year Brilliant Brass in her numerous stakes triumphs.

Prado's best efforts came locally this year when he won three Maryland Million races and two Turf Festival events, including the Grade III Selima Stakes with Irish Forever and the Grade III Laurel Turf Cup on Square Cut.

Prado passed pacesetter Ameri Valay on the outside in the stretch of the Congressional, out-finishing Greatsilverfleet by 2 1/4 lengths. Ameri Valay was third. The 8-5 favorite, Forry Cow How, who carried high weight of 120 pounds, lodged a bid on the final turn, but flattened out in the stretch, finishing fifth.

The race could have been a definitive effort for Forry Cow How, who is being sought by Arab sheiks who want a proven distance runner to run at their track in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. But it is uncertain how the outcome of the Congressional might affect a potential sale by owners Eddie and Binnie Houghton of Chestertown.

Northern Launch was bred by owner Joseph Keelty, of Baltimore, who races as the Dumbarton Stable. Keelty's adviser, Butler bloodstockagent Donald Litz, said Keelty had purchased Relita, the dam of Northern Launch, for $235,000 from the King Haven Farm dispersal at Keeneland, Ky., in 1988. She was carrying Northern Launch at the time. Relita is a half sister to Steady Growth and Kingsbridge, two Canadian champions.

"The horse [Northern Launch] showed no speed as a 2-year-old and was dropped down into a claimer when he was stretched out in a route race for the first time," Litz said. "He won big that day and has never been risked for a tag again. [Trainer] Dale Capuano told me he was thinking about claiming him that day. But he didn't and has regretted it ever since."

Litz said the horse's "dosage" (a mathematical formula based on pedigree) indicates Northern Launch's best distance is 1 1/2 miles. "Since he's gotten older and has been stretched out to longer distances, his form has improved," Litz said.


Prince Nicky collapsed during the fifth race yesterday. "He gushed [from bleeding], but his legs are OK," said John Betts, trainer of the 5-year-old gelding. The horse got up and was taken from the track by ambulance. "But he seems to be all right now," Betts said a couple of races later. . . . Bad Boy Willy, who had finished second 11 times this year, won his first, defeating

D'Orazio by 6 3/4 lengths in the fourth race. . . . In addition to Northern Launch, Keelty owns promising 2-year-old colt Cashel Dancer, who is being nominated to the 1994 Triple Crown series. Northern Launch was originally trained by Ben Perkins Jr., but the Dumbarton horses were turned over to Jimmy Murphy when Perkins left Maryland last spring.

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