'Mary Bo' tough cookie Horse racing: The erstwhile 'Miss Piggy' has suffered her share of indignities in schooling ZTC sessions, but she hasn't been knocked off stride.

October 13, 1998|By Mike Klingaman | Mike Klingaman,SUN STAFF

During her first month at the track, Mary Bo Quoit was kicked bloody in the shin, spooked by a motorcycle gang and nearly trampled by a pack of thundering thoroughbreds.

Tough sport, horse racing.

The hubbub has not scarred Mary Bo Quoit, the 2-year-old whose life is being chronicled in The Sun. The steel-gray filly breezes through her workouts at the Bowie Training Center in Prince George's County, unfazed by the ruckus.

"Some horses get real timid when stuff happens on the track. They never forget," said JoAnne Hughes, her trainer. "But this one doesn't seem to mind.

"She's a pretty good warrior, a little Amazon."

Foaled and raised on a farm in Carroll County, Mary Bo Quoit -- nicknamed "Miss Piggy" -- has seemed a magnet for turmoil since her arrival at Bowie in September.

Stepping gingerly onto the beginner's track, Mary Bo Quoit was almost clipped by a horse racing past. Another day, another dilemma: As the filly entered Bowie's main oval for the first time, four motorcyclists roared down a nearby road. Startled, Mary Bo Quoit forged ahead, stomping the foot of another horse, who hauled off and kicked her.

Mary Bo Quoit shrugged it off and completed the one-mile workout. Afterward, Hughes noticed a two-inch gash on her left rear shin.

The horse's injury surprised her handlers. "She was a leader on the track that day," said Anissa Butler, her exercise rider. "She didn't act 'owwwey' out there."

A veterinarian stitched the wound.

"It was bleeding pretty good, but Piggy never stopped to lick it," Hughes said appreciatively. "Remember John Wayne's line when broke his leg in 'The Longest Day?' He said, 'Lace the boot up tight.'

"That's her, in the heat of battle. She's a very self-assured filly."

Several days later, her legs wrapped in protective pink &r bandages, Mary Bo Quoit worked out again. She had come to Bowie to gain racing savvy, to move up from a romp in the field to a regimen more akin to a rush-hour commute.

No sooner had she begun to canter around the track than a half-dozen older horses came barreling up behind her.

Whoosh. The group raced past, practically spinning the filly around. Then Butler leaned forward and whispered in Mary Bo's ear. "Get it!" she urged.

The horse lit out after the pack.

She didn't catch it, of course. She lost her oomph before circling the one-mile track. "She's young, she got tired," Butler said. "She'll learn about pace in time."

Hughes was impressed with her filly's doings.

"She got a bit confused when the 'Charge of the Light Brigade' came past, but it was good that she followed them," the trainer said.

"She doesn't like to hear stuff running up on her, which is not a bad thing for a race horse. If others start moving behind her, she wants to stay in front of them."

Of such instincts are winners made, Hughes said.

Pub Date: 10/13/98

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