Miller's back in Md. with stakes win nTC

March 07, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

When Donnie Miller Jr. won a $30,000 overnight stakes at Laurel Race Course yesterday, it seemed as if he were starting his career over again.

At one time, he would have had his pick of mounts. Yesterday he ended up on Quicken in the Endless Surprise Stakes only after Rick Wilson turned the horse down.

Miller made the most of the opportunity. When front-running favorite, Majesty's Turn, unexpectedly weakened, the stretch run became a free-for-all for the closers.

Miller and Quicken won by a neck in a three-horse photo finish over Kenny Skinner on Love That Barney. Wilson and his mount, Military Look, were a nose behind in third.

The victory was the first stakes win for Miller, 30, in Maryland since he won the Gay Matelda Stakes on Feb. 2, 1991, with Ritchie Trail.

At that time, the jockey found himself in a rut after riding on the local circuit for about 10 years. "I felt I had done all I could do in Maryland and needed to go somewhere else. I guess I should have left sooner," he said.

Now after spending three years in California, Arkansas, Illinois and Kentucky, he is resuming his career in Maryland "and happy that I'm here," he said yesterday.

L Still, Miller is finding he has to prove himself over again.

Never mind that he has won nearly 60 stakes races in Maryland, including one Preakness, five runnings of the Jennings Handicap, three Barbara Fritchies, two John B. Campbells and a General George.

Never mind that he was once the regular jockey on such stakes stars as Little Bold John, Deputed Testamony, Lady Dean, Kattegat's Pride and Thirty Eight Go Go.

"I felt I was just beginning to catch on in Kentucky and left with some trepidation," he said. "But now I know I made the right move. I don't expect trainers to all of a sudden give up jockeys that have been riding for them. I know I have to work hard and hustle. Actually, I'm surprised I've gotten as many mounts as I have already. There are a lot of new outfits and jockeys here since I left, and that's making it interesting. I've ridden a horse for Billy Turner and won a race on Saturday for Scott Posey. I had never ridden much for them before."

Since he began riding at Laurel last Thursday, Miller has had 16 mounts, won four races, had two seconds and three thirds.

* Edgar Prado, a 1992 and 1993 standout in Maryland, won the Young Jockeys World Championship by riding News Value to a 1 1/2 -length victory in a one-mile race at Nakayama Race Course in Ichikawa, Japan.

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