Three consecutive victories late last year, including one against males, earned Gin Talking the title of Maryland-bred Horse of the Year.
The 3-year-old filly closed out 2000 with commanding wins in the Maryland Million Oaks, Grade III Anne Arundel Stakes and Broad Brush Stakes. In the Broad Brush, Gin Talking defeated her seven male challengers by two lengths.
In voting conducted by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, Gin Talking also was named champion 3-year-old filly.
"That was really, really cool," said Gin Talking's trainer, Robin Graham, of Horse of the Year honors. "The guys are so excited. Lou's feet still aren't touching the ground."
Lou is Lou Rehak, one of "the guys" who own Gin Talking. His partners are Willie White and Bob Orndorff in what the longtime friends call Skeedattle Associates.
"We surely thought she'd be 3-year-old filly champion," Rehak said. "But it was a real thrill to be Horse of the Year. We're very proud of her."
After finishing second last weekend in the Snow Goose Handicap at Laurel Park, Gin Talking is slated to race March 31 in the Grade III Next Move Handicap at Aqueduct.
Here are the other Maryland-bred champions of 2000:
Your Out, champion 2-year-old filly; Global Gait, champion 2-year-old male; Disco Rico, champion 3-year-old male; Hookedonthefeelin, champion older female; Testing, champion older male; A Little Luck, champion turf runner; and Ironfirst, champion steeplechaser.
Four of the champions were sired by stallions at Country Life Farm. Allen's Prospect sired Gin Talking and Your Out, and Citidancer sired Hookedonthefeelin and Disco Rico.
The state-bred champions will be honored at the Maryland Horse Breeders Association awards dinner April 20 at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.
Autumn De Francis Dash
This year, for the first time since its inception in 1990, the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash will be run in the fall instead of the summer.
The six-furlong dash, one of Maryland's three Grade I stakes, will headline a "fall festival day" of five or six stakes Nov. 17 at Laurel Park, said Lou Raffetto Jr., chief operating officer of the Maryland Jockey Club.
The date is three weeks after the Breeders' Cup at Belmont Park. Raffetto said he hopes to attract horses from the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
"There's a huge window of opportunity after the Breeders' Cup to get some top horses," Raffetto said. "It would be great if we could carve out a niche for this race in the fall."
Tammaro still missing
John Tammaro Jr., the 75-year-old trainer last seen three weeks ago at Gulfstream Park, remains missing. Born in Baltimore and stabled for years in Maryland, Tammaro drove away from the South Florida track Feb. 25 after training his horses.
"There's nothing new," said his son John III, a trainer at Bowie. "It's like he's disappeared into thin air."
He said he believes his father met with foul play after leaving the track. Despite being in ill health, the senior Tammaro has not turned up in a hospital. He hasn't used his credit cards or made calls from his cell phone.
"It's tough not knowing," his son said. "You imagine all kinds of things."
Around the tracks
Robert Meyerhoff's Include, recent winner of the New Orleans Handicap at the Fair Grounds, will skip the Oaklawn Handicap and shoot for the Pimlico Special, said the colt's trainer, Bud Delp. Include will prep for the May 12 Pimlico Special in the Jennings Handicap on April 21 at Pimlico.
"We're Maryland-breds, all of us," Delp said. "Mr. Meyerhoff would like to try to win the Pimlico Special, and so would I."
Despite his crazed antics before the Florida Derby, Talk Is Money will remain in Florida on the Kentucky Derby trail. His next race will be the Flamingo Stakes on April 7 at Hialeah Park, where he's been stabled this winter, said his trainer, John Scanlan.
Scanlan said he plans to school the temperamental colt three or four times before crowds at Hialeah, which opened yesterday.
"And I'm taking him to South Beach for the weekend," Scanlan said jokingly, referring to the hip hangout on Miami Beach. "I figure if he can handle the crowds and the noise at South Beach, he'll be good to go in any paddock in the country."
Burning Roma will contest the Tampa Bay Derby today and then return to Tony Dutrow's barn at Laurel. Dutrow trained Burning Roma last year but hasn't seen him since the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, in which the colt finished a fast-closing fourth.
Chip Dutrow, Tony's assistant, said that Burning Roma will be pointed toward the Preakness, not the Kentucky Derby. He would prep in the Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct or the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico, Dutrow said.
This year's Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship Series, in its fifth season, will feature a new division (3-year-old-and-up long on turf replaces 3-year-old long on dirt), 30 races with $3.125 million in purses, and owner and trainer bonuses of $510,000.
2001 MATCH Series
3-year-old sprint on dirt
Hirsch Jacobs Stakes: May 12, Pimlico, $75,000, 6 furlongs