Leatherbury extends Laurel stakes run

March 20, 1995|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

It's no surprise that King Leatherbury continues to send out a stream of winning horses.

What is a bit unusual, though, is the perennially leading trainer's clout in recent Laurel stakes.

Claiming is the name of the game and is how the 61-year-old trainer maintains his winning reputation, although he has saddled his share of stakes winners through the years.

When Gotcha Cornered came from off the pace and wore down Northern Lion yesterday in the $32,175 Pro Bidder Stakes, it was Leatherbury's third stakes winner in the past four weekends at Laurel Park.

The streak started with Super Memory in the Harrison Johnson Memorial on Feb. 25, continued last weekend with long shot Queen Letizia in the Conniver Handicap and was extended yesterday with Gotcha Cornered's winning run in the Pro Bidder Stakes.

The best is to come: Taking Risks, the star of Leatherbury's stable and a Grade I winner last year, is edging closer to his 1995 debut after a winter vacation. The horse is scheduled to work a half-mile at Laurel this morning and is "training super," Leatherbury said yesterday.

Only two other trainers, Ron Cartwright and Carlos Garcia, have won as many stakes at Laurel this winter.

In many ways, Gotcha Cornered fits the profile of a successful Leatherbury claim, although he has been around and held his form much longer than many such runners. He was haltered for $18,500 by Leatherbury nearly a year ago and has developed into an accomplished long-distance runner. His victory yesterday came at the marathon distance of 1 7/8 miles, prompting Edgar Prado, who was runner-up to winning jockey Mark Johnston, to say, "The race was so long that next time I'm going to bring my lunch."

Leatherbury describes Gotcha Cornered as "an old-cow type of horse. Nothing bothers him, and he keeps plodding along. But he also seems to be improving."

Yesterday was the horse's fourth consecutive win since Jan. 12.

Stormy Blues set for debut

Selima Stakes winner Stormy Blues, who finished third in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Stakes last November, is scheduled to make her first 1995 start Thursday at Aqueduct.

"After that race, we hope to run her in the Comely Stakes and then the Black-Eyed Susan [stakes] at Pimlico," said owner Harriet Finkelstein.

Finkelstein, and her husband, David, who live in Pikesville, have been wintering their horses in Florida with trainers Scotty Schulhofer and Frannie Campitelli. The Finkelsteins added to their stable with a couple of 2-year-old purchases at the recent Florida sales. A Cure The Blues filly is headed to New York with Schulhofer's string, and a Saratoga Six colt is joining Campitelli's outfit at Pimlico.

The couple's Triple Crown nominee, Danny's Crown, has been gelded in hopes that that will settle him down and get him more focused on racing. Their stakes-winning filly, Code Blum, has been retired and is being bred to 1992 2-year-old champion Gilded Time.

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