New jockey, old horse shine

September 11, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

Jeff Carle arrived in Maryland last winter on the tail end of an ice storm and has worked relentlessly since then to try to crack the upper echelon of top jockeys.

Yesterday, Carle got his first big break.

The 29-year-old rider from upstate New York teamed with the aged gelding Sunny Sunrise and scored a front-running, 5 1/2 -length victory over Aggressive Chief in the $100,000 Polynesian Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.

It was the kind of race that sparked memories of the Sunny Sunrise of old, a multiple graded-stakes winner of more than $1 million, who until yesterday hadn't won a race this year and seemed over the hill.

For Carle, the win gave credence to a couple of old-fashioned maxims -- hard work does pay off and good guys do finish first.

Before he left yesterday on his annual yearling-buying spree in Kentucky, Bud Delp, trainer of Sunny Sunrise, said he gave Carle a shot on the Harry Meyerhoff-owned runner because "Jeff has helped me out, worked so many horses in the mornings for me, and besides, he rides real good on front-runners."

In his first try a couple of weeks ago on Sunny Sunrise, Carle finished third in the Thistledown Budweiser Breeders' Cup after the horse had lost his previous two races by a combined 69 1/2 lengths.

Yesterday Carle would not let victory be denied in the Grade III Pimlico stakes.

As usual, Sunny Sunrise acted up a bit in the gate. "But I wasn't concerned, because he still had his feet under him. He wasn't going to try to flip or do anything like that," Carle said.

But the speedy New Jersey invader Northern Trend out-ran him into the first turn. That's when Carle and the horse grew bullish. When Tommy Turner swung wide on the turn with Northern Trend, Carle gunned Sunny Sunrise into the lead. From then on the old horse ran his heart out for Carle, completing six furlongs in 1 minute, 10 seconds and finishing up the 1 1/16th miles in 1:42, a second off Bill E. Shears' stakes record.

For Delp, who was watching the races by simulcast at the Keeneland, Ky., sales with Meyerhoff, it was a banner day. In the previous race, the Meyerhoff-Delp 2-year-old Western Echo showed grit by rallying in the stretch after being boxed in along the rail under Edgar Prado and defeated Material Boy by 1 1/2 lengths.

Western Echo is now expected to ship to Chicago in a couple of weeks and run in the Grade II Arlington-Washington Futurity.

Western Echo, the 4-5 favorite, paid $3. Sunny Sunrise, fifth choice in the 7-horse Polynesian field, returned $12.80.

A half-hour after the Polynesian, Carle was still euphoric. When -- he came to Maryland last winter, he was so broke that Pimlico/Laurel vice president of racing Lenny Hale put him up at his house and lined up an agent for him. By April, Carle was getting enough mounts that he could move his wife, Sheri, and FTC their three children down from Connecticut, although he has now switched agents twice and still rides only a fraction of the mounts reserved for Prado and other leading jockeys.

Carle was the leading apprentice at Belmont and Aqueduct in 1989, but had his career interrupted when he hurt his back in a car accident.

"After that, it was hard to re-establish myself in New York. I tried Kentucky for a while and then came to Maryland," he said.

"It's been tough breaking in. But I'm 5-1 and weigh 105 pounds. I know God put me on earth to be a jockey and I truly believe that all the adversity I've had has made me a stronger and better person. Believe me, I was out there today having a really good time. It was even more special because yesterday was my dad's birthday and he called me from New York and said 'Win one for me.'

"I'm going to keep persevering. I am going to be true and honest to my dreams."

NOTES: Trainer King Leatherbury said yesterday that the Lakeville Stable's Taking Risks will bypass the Oct. 1 Maryland Million and run instead in the Sept. 24 Kentucky Cup at Turfway Park. "The Turfway race has a bigger purse ($300,000 compared $150,000 for the Maryland Million Classic) and fits in better to where we want to run the horse next, which is the Meadowlands Cup on Oct. 14," Leatherbury said. . . . Two well-bred fillies make their debuts today in Pimlico's third race. Retrospective is a half-sister to Maryland champion Broad Brush and is sired by the recently deceased Easy Goer. Another starter in the same race is Peter Angelos' Georgia K. The sister to Maryland Million Classic winner Forry Cow How was originally named Kiss Me. But Angelos changed the name to Georgia K. in honor of Georgia Frontiere, owner of the Los Angeles Rams football team that Angelos has been negotiating to move to Baltimore. . . . Harriet and David Finkelstein's 2-year-old filly, Stormy Blues, runs Saturday in the Matron Stakes at Belmont Park. Stormy Blues was third in the Grade I Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga in her last start.

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