Luck of the day rubs off on jockey Verge Journeyman victorious on all 3 inherited mounts

March 18, 1996|By Pete Bielski | Pete Bielski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Jockey Mario Verge may well wear green every day, trying to make all days St. Patrick's.

The journeyman rider inherited three mounts and won with all three after fellow rider Juan Umana was unseated in an earlier race and took off the rest of yesterday's 10-race card at Laurel Park.

"It was a good day for me," Verge said. "And a bad day for Juan, but it could have been worse. At least he didn't get hurt."

One person happier than Verge yesterday was trainer Horace Parker. His good fortune with Penn Three Fifty continued. Penn Three Fifty won the $30,000-added Blarney Stone Stakes, with Mario Pino aboard, giving the trainer four wins from 19 starts since claiming the horse for $18,500 last April from Barclay Tagg.

Penn Three Fifty has earned more than $150,000 since Parker claimed him for owner Stephen Diubaldo. More than 25 guests of Parker crammed the Laurel winner's circle, celebrating Penn Three Fifty's neck victory over favored Glorious Fun.

Penn Three Fifty ran the rarely raced distance of 1 3/4 miles in 2 minutes, 59 2/5 seconds and paid $9.

Verge coaxed three winners and is hoping for a breakthrough on the Maryland circuit.

"I'm past the stage of getting nervous when I get the chance to ride for new people," said Verge, a Puerto Rican native who has ridden in Maryland two years. "It's long been my goal to ride for some of the bigger outfits here. You really have to have the horse to win. About 99 percent of it is getting the best horse. I just hope this day can open some doors."

One door Verge peered into belongs to trainer King T. Leatherbury. Before yesterday, Verge had only three assignments from the powerful Leatherbury barn. Yesterday, he was 2-for-2.

Verge scored in the sixth aboard Leatherbury's Den Of Thieves, a 6-year-old that's been idle since October and was entered in the sprint mostly to prepare for his preferred distance races later this spring.

But Verge would have none of preparation. He rallied "Thieves" to a three-length allowance victory, getting Leatherbury a $12,600 winner's share and $1,260 for himself.

"He didn't just go past quitting horses; he went by horses that were still running good," Verge said. "It's funny, [Leatherbury] told me it's only a five-horse field, but you should be able to get him going late and pass a few horses. I told him I'll try to pass all four."

He did.

He rode Leatherbury's Algebar Henderson to victory in the seventh, leading every step of the way. Earlier, Verge won the fourth aboard Golden Phase, trained by perennial power Dale Capuano.

Pub Date: 3/18/96

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