Mud's the word at Pimlico

March 30, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

Pimlico Race Course began its live spring meet yesterday with a few opening-day quirks, a tribute to former owner Ben Cohen and a lot of mud.

A horse named Hit The Music, whom announcer Dave Rodman called "a mud-lovin' mamma," shipped in from Philadelphia Park and won the feature, the $26,625 Gala Lil Stakes, by 2 1/4 lengths over local runner May Maloy.

The wet track, which was listed as sloppy for the first four races and then became mud, contributed to 15 scratches and a number of short fields.

The first race was reduced to three starters after two of the six horses, Arctic Ocean and Leonative, were allowed out because of a veterinarian excuse. A third horse, Social Lion, was scratched after a shuttle van carrying horses from Laurel Race Course broke down and delayed the arrival of the animals.

Management offered only win and Daily Double betting on the race. The second race also had three scratches. One horse, Alfonso's Choice, was a passenger on the stranded van. Another, Ileoke, didn't show up from his stable in Virginia. And another starter, Cove Creek, was scratched by the stewards since he had run Sunday on Laurel's closing card.

There was further mayhem when Beautiful Ivory dumped her jockey, Frank Douglas, in the post parade of the ninth race, ran off and was scratched. Another horse, Carnival Chatter, kicked off one of her shoes in the paddock while she was being saddled. Track farrier Phil Thommen successfully tacked it back on and the horse ran, but she didn't win.

Overall, business at the betting windows at the eight Maryland wagering outlets showed an increase of about $100,000 over last year's opening day.

Roger Kohn, owner of Hit The Music, was pleased with his filly's performance in the Gala Lil Stakes. The 31-year-old mortgage banker from Lansdale, Pa., said he owns a couple of horses and had never before won a stakes.

Pimlico speedster Singing Ring sprinted to the early lead but was pressed by Classical Princess and tired in the stretch.

Jockey Bob Colton said that when Singing Ring quit, it set the race up for Hit The Music. Even though the filly had won three races on a muddy track, he said she didn't really like the surface that much yesterday at Pimlico. "It was slippery and she was sliding a little," Colton said.

However, her time for the five furlongs was 57 4/5 seconds, a second off the track mark set by Goldminer's Dream last year.

The filly had run in claimers but has improved since she overcame a lung infection, Kohn said.

Management lowered the infield flag to half-staff yesterday in memory of Ben Cohen, who owned the track with his brother, Herman, from 1952 until 1986. Cohen died last week at age 94.

NOTES: Harriet and David Finkelstein of Pikesville have a new trainer. They have sent three horses to Frannie Campitelli at Pimlico and have another runner with Hall of Fame conditioner Scotty Schulhofer. The Finkelsteins' stakes-winning mare, Diamond Duo, gave birth on Sunday to a filly, sired by Dixieland Band, and is being bred back to the same stallion. . . . The win aboard Hit The Music was Colton's third stakes victory in Maryland this year. The Philadelphia Park-based rider previously won the Grade II General George and Landaura Stakes at Laurel. Colton said that General George winner Blushing Julian got sick after the race but breezed for the first time yesterday. "He is being pointed for a $100,000 sprint stakes on April 19 at Keeneland," Colton said. . . . West By West, winner of the Widener Handicap at Hialeah Race Course last weekend, will be a supplementary entry in the May 14 Pimlico Special, according to trainer Rusty Arnold. West By West is scheduled to stand in Maryland at the Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City when he is retired at the end of the year.

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