`Holdit' digs in on Laurel turf, captures Fort McHenry by 1 3/4

Jockey Wilson's patience pays in $100,000 handicap

Horse Racing

July 05, 2000|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The only time Rick Wilson rode Holditholditholdit before yesterday, the colt ran a huge race to finish third in the Grade II Dixie Handicap on Preakness Day.

After missing the horse's last outing, Wilson was back aboard in the $100,000 Fort McHenry Handicap at Laurel Park and scored a 1 3/4 -length victory over a strong field of veteran turfers.

The winning time for 1 1/4 miles was 2:03 3/5 after Holditholdithold wore down Private Slip and fended off a late challenge from Cynics Beware, who finished second by a half length.

Oddly, the winner almost missed the Fort McHenry after injuring himself in the Riggs Handicap June 18. Trainer and former jockey Jeffrey Carle relied on the advice of New York trainer P.G. Johnson and decided to run him in the McHenry."

[Johnson] told me that if the race was on dirt, he wouldn't run him, but he thought he could handle it on turf," said Carle. "Everything he told me worked right according to plan. I'm so glad for this horse because he tries so hard every time he runs. He's really been on top of his game lately."

The win was only the second in 12 grass starts for Holditholditholdit, owned by Ronald F. Richter.

"I paid $20,000 for him out of the Timonium 2-year-olds-in-training sale in 1998," said Richter. "Most of the time, you're happy if they're worth what you pay for them, but we got really lucky here."

Richter has four horses being trained by Carle, who rode several horses for the owner during his jockey career.

"We've always had a good professional rapport, so I decided to give him some horses to get him started when he quit riding," said Richter.

Wilson guided the horse patiently after getting good placement inside early in the race. He angled Holditholditholdit out in the upper stretch and waited for an opening. Nearing the 16th pole, they pushed between horses and drove away to the wire.

"I wanted to ride the horse in the Riggs [Holditholditholdit's last start], but I had a commitment to ride out of town that day, so I was really happy to get back on this horse for Jeff," said Wilson.

"I knew that if he had him as ready as he had for the Dixie, I'd have a heck of a chance."

Holditholditholdit earned $60,000 to increase his lifetime take to $204,120.

Twenty-three contenders have been nominated for the Grade I, $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, the highlight of the Laurel summer meeting on Saturday, July 15.

Included are the Paul McGee-trained Bet On Sunshine, winner of four in a row and nearly $900,000 in his career; Successful Appeal, a Grade II winner who is ridden by Edgar Prado; Say Florida Sandy, who is approaching $1 million in earnings; the highly regarded Richter Scale, another near-millionaire, and local speedsters Just Call Me Carl, Clever Gem and Dr. Max.

NOTE: Laurel Park's first-race post time on Fridays - originally scheduled for 4 p.m. in July and August - has been changed to 1:30 p.m.

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