`Salty' takes Pino for winning ride

Hands-off approach sparks St. Brendan victory

March 19, 2000|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Mario Pino spoke to the trainer by telephone. The instructions were simple: Be a passenger.

So Pino, one of Maryland's top jockeys, did nothing fancy when he hopped astride Salty Note before yesterday's $75,000 St. Brendan Stakes at Laurel Park. And Salty Note, a 5-year-old Canadian-bred, responded with a powerful charge to the wire for his sixth victory in 22 starts.

Pino had never ridden Salty Note. He talked to the trainer, J. Alec Fehr, the day before the race. Fehr, a Canadian stabled at Belmont Park for the winter, did not travel to Maryland for the St. Brendan, a 1 1/8-mile race for older horses.

"Mr. Fehr told me, `You're a passenger on him. Sit still. Let him do all the running,' " Pino said in the winner's circle. "He told me he was a real temperamental kind of horse. Get to be his friend, pet him, keep him happy, don't rouse him up."

Pino did everything but feed him carrots in the post parade. Horse and rider loped along in sixth place around the first turn and down the backstretch. Entering the far turn Pino swung Salty Note wide, and the horse took off.

He passed two horses, then another, before straightening out at the head of the stretch side-by-side with Thunder Flash, another game horse accelerating late. Blocking them both directly in front were the two leaders, 2-1 favorite S W Clarence and Leave It To Beezer.

The hard-charging jockey Ramon Dominguez steered Thunder Flash to the inside, and Pino directed Salty Note even farther outside. Thunder Flash tried to squeeze through on the rail but had no room.

Wide and in the clear, Salty Note swept past the battling leaders and persevered by a head. As the 7-2 third choice, he paid $9.80 to win. S W Clarence held on for second, one length ahead of 4-1 Leave It To Beezer. Thunder Flash, the 3-1 second choice, settled for fourth, another half-length back.

The first three finishers were from out of state: Salty Note from Canada via Belmont Park, S W Clarence from Penn National and Leave It To Beezer from Philadelphia Park.

NOTES: The late Hayes S. Brown often sat on a bench near the paddock and racing office at Laurel Park. Yesterday, representatives of the Maryland Jockey Club dedicated the bench to Brown, who died last month. He was 75.

Brown was a longtime owner and trainer of thoroughbreds. He also worked as stall superintendent for the Maryland Jockey Club. His son J. D. Brown, who owns the horse Testafly, attended the ceremony after the first race.

Testafly finished last in the St. Brendan. Brown had transferred the horse from trainer Dale Mills to Dale Capuano for his last seven races. Yesterday, Testafly ran for the first time back with Mills. Brown said his father's last wish was for the horse to return to Mills. Edgar Prado, nearing the end of his first full winter at Gulfstream Park, hasn't decided where he'll ride this spring, said his agent, Steve Rushing.

Despite a story in Daily Racing Form that Prado would go to New York, and despite rumors around Laurel that he will return to Maryland, Prado has made no firm plans, Rushing said.

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