Laurel winner wakes up in time

Sleepy Pickupspeed starts slowly, as usual, but wins Private Terms

March 26, 2000|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

The first time Larry Murray attempted to show Pickupspeed how to break from the starting gate, the then-2-year-old horse took two steps out, turned around and started walking back.

A trainer of horses at Laurel Park, Murray knew he was in trouble.

"They're like elephants," Murray said. "They don't forget anything. I thought, `This is not good.' "

Yesterday, Murray stood in the winner's circle at Laurel, celebrating Pickupspeed's victory in the $75,000 Private Term Stakes. Now a 3-year-old gelding nominated to the Triple Crown races, Pickupspeed broke eighth -- at least he beat one horse from the gate -- and then weaved his way through the field for a three-length victory.

After that first troublesome lesson last summer in breaking from the gate, Murray worked countless hours with his horse. He tried to teach him to walk into the gate, to stand quietly, but then, when the doors opened, to burst out as if a bee had stung his bottom.

"He goes in the gate and he goes to sleep," Murray said. "He's like Baby Huey in there. He's not concerned about being a racehorse."

Six of Pickupspeed's eight races earned comment lines of "dwelt" or "broke slowly." Once he started running, he ran well. But by then, it was usually too late. As he entered the gate for the 1 1/8-mile Private Terms, Pickupspeed had one win in eight starts.

Bettors sent him off at 10-1. His jockey, Larry Reynolds, knew better. After riding Pickupspeed in all but one of his races and working with him in the mornings, Reynolds knew the gelding had talent.

"He's still got a lot of maturing to do," Reynolds said in the winner's circle. "It's scary how good he could be."

Pickupspeed is a son of Broad Brush and Sondra and Howard Bender's broodmare Wakerup. Murray said Broad Brush's offspring often come with quirks. Pickupspeed's happens to be his casual attitude about breaking.

Chasing a sizzling pace in the Private Terms helped, but Pickupspeed displayed enough ability that Murray and the Benders might consider an out-of-state stakes for the 3-year-old, or maybe even the Preakness.

"Let us enjoy this one first," Murray said.

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