S.C. invader causes stir at Laurel

March 05, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

The next time Jamie Woodington runs a first-time starter at Laurel Race Course, Maryland bettors will take notice.

The Camden, S.C., horsewoman -- who once galloped horses for Hall of Fame trainer Mack Miller and broke champion Go For Wand as a 2-year-old -- shipped a pair of her own horses into Laurel on Monday from the Camden Training Center, specifically to run this week.

Woodington didn't make the trip herself, she said yesterday, "because I have a dozen horses in training here."

Instead, her partner, Glen Cowgill, accompanied the horses and borrowed stable space from an old friend, trainer Ronnie Benshoff.

On Thursday in Laurel's fifth race, Woodington's entry, Lace Up, went virtually unnoticed. At 6.50-1 odds, the 5-year-old mare finished fifth for a $5,000 claiming tag.

But yesterday, it seemed, everybody wanted to know about Woodington.

Her 3-year-old first-timer, Thorny Crown, apparently well-schooled since he was equipped with blinkers and a shadow roll, came from off the pace in the third race, rallied about four horses wide under jockey Omar Klinger, and won at first asking.

Bettors watching the tote board noticed the horse's odds plummeted from 18-1 to 7-1 just before post time. He paid $17 for a $2 win bet.

According to one jockey's agent, people were yelling "scam" in the racing secretary's office, and regular bettors were fuming that they had had "one put over" on them.

Woodington said she didn't bet on the horse. Benshoff, who saddled Thorny Crown for her, said: "I bet a few dollars, but nothing significant. I would have been a fool not to. He was the best bred horse [sired by Grade I stakes winner Garthorn] in the race. And he was running against a bunch of bad maidens. But I didn't win enough to pay the rent."

Added Woodington: "Somebody must have thought we didn't make the trip up there for nothing."

She said she had purchased Thorny Crown privately as a weanling in Kentucky. "He didn't start last year since I don't run many 2-year-olds. When he was ready to run, I tried to find the easiest spot I could for him," she said.

That came against $11,500 maidens at Laurel. The horse showed three slow workouts at the Camden facility, which were printed in the Daily Racing Form, although no workouts were listed for the horse in Laurel's Equibase program.

"You have to remember, the track at a training center is slower and deeper than a track where races are run," Woodington said. She added that the horse had shown moderate ability.

Today, Thorny Crown and Lace Up are due to ship back to Camden.

Last night, Benshoff wanted to know what all the fuss was about. "She brought a fit horse in and he was ready to run," he said.

Added Lenny Hale, Laurel/Pimlico race courses vice president of racing, a longtime Woodington acquaintance: "These aren't people rolling in money made from betting coups."

* Run Alden, a champion Maryland-bred 2-year-old and recent winner of the Horatius Stakes at Laurel, was set to run in the $50,000 Cherry Hill Mile last night at Garden State Park in New Jersey.

But the jockeys refused to ride because of concern over track conditions and the card was canceled.

It's uncertain if the stakes will be rescheduled.

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