Monsignor K., in money 103 times, takes to Mount

On Horse Racing

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

The caption above the photograph read: "Sometimes truly wonderful things occur ..."

Indeed, sometimes wonderful things truly do.

The photograph was a horse surrounded by adoring people at a farm near Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg. The horse was Monsignor K., a retired 13-year-old thoroughbred named after Monsignor Robert Kline, former president of the college, teacher for more than 40 years, and avid horseplayer. He died last year at 80.

His equine namesake lives on, and for the past five months Monsignor K., the horse, has been the property of the college and its riding club. After a phenomenal, 10-year career during which he raced 186 times, Monsignor K. was given to the college for retraining as a hunter-jumper.

On the racetracks of four states (Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia), Monsignor K. won 30 races, finished second 36 times, and third 37 times. In other words, he finished in the money in an amazing 103 out of 186 starts. A claimer who passed through 16 owners, Monsignor K. earned $145,406.

His breeder, Bill Bayne, a Mount alumnus, named the horse after Monsignor K., whom Bayne called "one of the most influential people in my life." The horse's last owner was Bruno Bellucci, a trainer at Penn National. Upon Monsignor K.'s retirement last fall, Bellucci called Ross Peddicord, a Mount administrator, and offered the horse to the college.

Peddicord, a former Sun turf writer, said Monsignor K. has settled in nicely at nearby Breezy Hill Farm. Clarice Dionot, a student from North Potomac, has adopted Monsignor K. as her riding project. Co-captain of the Mount's riding team, Dionot is riding the horse and teaching him to jump. He may be ready for competition this summer, Peddicord said.

Monsignor K. has become so popular that he has posed for nearly as many photographs as Cigar, the photogenic Maryland-bred two-time Horse of the Year.

Of Monsignor K., Peddicord said: "We call him Hollywood now, because he's had his picture taken so many times."

Allen crosses 1,000 wins

Trainer A. Ferris Allen III saddled his 1,000th winner Thursday, when Rubi Lubi won Laurel Park's first race as the bettors' 9-5 second choice. Mario Pino rode Rubi Lubi.

"Ferris is a fine horseman," Pino said. "With so many horses in his care, he really has them spotted well and ready to go. I have only the best to say about his stable help, as well."

Maryland Jockey Club officials presented Allen a banner and a dozen red roses in the winner's circle. Allen, 48, saddled his first winner in 1975 at Charles Town.

Asked what his next goal was, Allen said: "I'm looking forward to 1,001. The first chance comes up in the fifth race."

Allen didn't win the fifth, but he didn't wait long for victory No. 1,001. As the 1-2 favorite, his Pinot Noir won the seventh race.

Hine horses for sale

Carolyn Hine, the Highlandtown native, said she will sell her horses now that her husband, Sonny, has died. A trainer in Maryland for nearly three decades, Sonny Hine died last week in Miami of complications from cancer.

They were married 37 years.

"I don't want to stay in it anymore, not without my buddy," Mrs. Hine said from home in Hallandale, Fla., near Gulfstream Park. "We were not just husband and wife. We were lovers and friends and buddies. We did everything together."

She owns 14 horses. Her most famous was Skip Away, retired as the world's second-leading money-earner and now standing at stud in Kentucky. But, she said, she might eventually get back into the business by buying one of Skippy's offspring.

Poll: racing interest up

A poll released by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said interest in horse racing increased 3.1 percent the last two years, the largest increase of the 14 sports measured.

The ESPN Chilton Sports Poll documented the rise in fan interest from March 1998 to January 2000.

Here's how other sports fared in percentages: Soccer (+2.3), boxing (+1.9), major-league baseball (+1.8), tennis (+1.5), golf (+1.1), NFL (+0.8), college football (+0.4), professional wrestling (even), auto racing (-2.2), NHL (-4.0), college basketball (-6.8), ice skating (-7.2) and NBA (-7.6).

NTRA commissioner Tim Smith said reasons for the increase include his association's advertising campaign and its purchase of additional TV time for races.

Rudolph un-retires

When Pimlico opens Wednesday for its 11 1/2-week meet, the familiar face of Rudy Rudolph will be back in the saddle.

One of the Maryland Jockey Club's most popular employees, Rudolph retired in September after 33 years at Maryland thoroughbred tracks as an outrider, chasing down loose horses in the morning and leading post parades in the afternoon.

But retirement did not sit well with the 63-year-old Rudolph. (Retirement is a relative term with him; he retired to work at the Sparks farm of his mother-in-law, trainer Bobby Kees.) So Rudolph will return to work Wednesday at Pimlico.

"I can be done in plenty of time here to get to Pimlico in the afternoon and pony a few horses," he said. "I don't like the soap operas."

Also noted

The Maryland Jockey Club has dropped the twin trifecta in favor of more superfectas. Seattle Slew, 26, is experiencing fertility problems at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky. Breeders are being advised to take their broodmares elsewhere. Chris Antley, who rode Charismatic through last year's Triple Crown series, is taking time off to fight weight problems. He had been scheduled to ride Archer City Slew in the Spiral Stakes yesterday at Turfway Park, but was replaced by Garrett Gomez. The Pimlico Special may be one of the best races of the year if all the horses pointing toward it show up: General Challenge, Budroyale, Lemon Drop Kid, Stephen Got Even, Golden Missile and Cat Thief. The Grade I race will be May 13.

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