It was the lure of bigger purses that took John Tammaro out of Maryland years ago. It's a filly that has brought him back.
The veteran trainer watched with a smile as Secret Prospect cruised to her ninth stakes victory yesterday at Pimlico, taking the $54,150 Primonetta Stakes. All of her stakes wins have come in Maryland, though the other eight were at Laurel, including three restricted to Maryland-breds.
"I like Maryland; I always have," said Tammaro, 51. "I went to New Jersey because of bigger purses a few years back and I established clientele there. Sometimes when you have better horses, you have to move to where you're best suited."
With Secret Prospect in his stable, he is best suited here. The Maryland-bred daughter of Allen's Prospect has made easy pickings of races similar to the Primonetta. Not even the sloppy track could slow her yesterday.
She stalked the quick pace set by the upset-minded pair of Bubbleover and Citiambit, fillies with a combined win streak of five. But jockey Carlos Marquez took Secret Prospect past the pacesetters with much in reserve, earning a hard-to-get "handily" comment from race charters.
The 11-to-10 favorite paid $4.40 and completed the six furlongs in 1: 12 2/5. Conradely took second.
Yesterday's $32,490 winner's check put the 4-year-old Secret Prospect's lifetime earnings at $395,970. She has 11 wins in 21 starts, with six seconds.
Tammaro moved his 24-horse stable to Laurel in November, buoyed by Secret Prospect and Concerto, the talented 3-year-old who won the Jim Beam Stakes. Concerto is expected to run in the Federico Tesio Stakes on Saturday at Pimlico, his last prep before heading for the Kentucky Derby.
Marquez has missed only four rides during Secret Prospect's career, including an assignment last month when he rode Concerto in the Jim Beam. He was glad to be back on his favorite filly, who finished a dismal seventh in a stakes race at Turfway Park in Kentucky in his absence.
"When we're facing these kind of horses, we're confident," Marquez said. "She had some bad luck in Kentucky, but she's a professional and I knew she'd be back. She's the reason I'm here. You can't give up a horse like this. You work so hard to get them, you don't want someone else picking up where you left off."
Marquez moved to Maryland in January and rode 25 winners at Laurel. Riding Secret Prospect has helped him gain other mounts from different outfits.
NOTE: Jockey Mark Johnston, the stable rider for trainer King T. Leatherbury, was winless at Pimlico for the first seven days -- a run of 40 mounts. That changed Friday when he won three races. He continued the trend with four winners yesterday.
Pub Date: 4/13/97