Maria Tiara's win a family affair

Friedmans' lone horse takes Lady Baltimore

August 08, 1999|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

The winner's circle was far more crowded than John C. Friedman's stable of racehorses.

Children in their mother's arms, a woman clutching her rosary -- more than a dozen smiling people in all -- jammed the winner's circle at Laurel Park yesterday after Maria's Tiara won the $75,000 Lady Baltimore Stakes.

Friedman trains Maria's Tiara. Friedman's wife, M. Virginia Friedman, owns her. And the Friedmans bred her. They celebrated her victory with family and friends.

How many other horses do the Friedmans race?

"Just her," John Friedman said. "That's our stable."

Friedman, 66, is a retired fire fighter who has trained horses 35 years. He has one stall at the Bowie Training Center.

"One stall," Friedman said. "One horse."

Maria's Tiara, a 4-year-old filly, won for the fifth time in 23 starts -- and the first time in a stakes. She has recently found her niche on turf.

"She lives to run," Friedman said. "I've never had a horse who's as happy with racing as her.

"In the morning, she just jumps into her bridle. She loves to go out and train. When a trailer pulls up in front of the barn, she just goes bananas. She knows she's going to the races, and she can't wait to get there."

Yesterday, Maria's Tiara, the 5-2 second choice, drew off to win the 1 1/8-mile race by 1 1/4 lengths.

"I had a ton of horse," said Mark Johnston, her jockey. "The Friedmans keep her happy, and she runs her butt off for them."

The win was the third of the afternoon for Johnston, who is benefiting from Edgar Prado's foray into New York.

The race before, Johnston won with Secret Firm, a 4-year-old colt Prado rode. Making his first start since September, Secret Firm, a winner of two graded-stakes last summer at Saratoga, easily won a six-furlong allowance race.

In the other featured race at Laurel, the $50,000 Churchbell Chimes Maryland Million Stakes, the 2-5 Alzora, trained by Michael W. Dickinson, romped by six lengths.

But the day's biggest winner -- and the happiest -- were the Friedmans.

NOTE: The stewards responded yesterday to questions about Friday's ninth race at Laurel Park, in which Sunny Affair broke from the gate without her jockey, Alcibiades Cortez. Bettors wondered why Sunny Affair wasn't declared a non-starter so their money could be refunded.

Although replays showed Cortez clinging to the side of the stall when the gate opened, the stewards ruled that Cortez was astride the horse even as he grasped the stall. The horse simply broke out from underneath Cortez, meaning that Cortez, not the starter, was at fault, the stewards concluded.

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