Baby Shark was toast of Feliciano's Laurel barn

Beer-quaffing speedster led all races, even his last

Horse Racing

October 19, 2003|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

When Baby Shark broke his leg and was euthanized Oct. 10 at Charles Town, hearts broke in Maryland for the little horse who drank beer with his groom.

The 5-year-old gray horse was one of the speediest horses in the country. He set records for 2 furlongs at Calder and 4 1/2 furlongs at Mountaineer Park. But around Benny Feliciano Jr.'s barn at Laurel, Baby Shark was the barn pet.

After work his groom, Edna Boscina, would sit with him and open a beer. The horse would perk up. "Give Baby Shark one," Feliciano would say. Boscino would let a can drain into Baby Shark's mouth, and he would drink every drop.

Baby Shark broke his leg while leading the HBPA Governor's Cup, a 4 1/2 -furlong sprint he'd won the year before. His owner, Eddie Turner, was driving to the race with his wife and another couple, but they got caught in traffic and missed the gruesome breakdown.

The next day, Turner's Michael's Pride ran in the Maryland Million Sprint at Laurel. Turner, 39, who owns a mortgage company in Towson, almost didn't attend, saying, "I just really wasn't in the mood ... "

At the last minute he decided to go with his 11-year-old sons, Nick and Zach. Michael's Pride, whom Turner had claimed two races before and turned over to the trainer Howard Wolfendale and his wife Tammy, won at odds of 14-1.

"I can't even describe the highs and lows," Turner said. "It was just absolutely incredible to have happen. Of all the horses I've owned, Baby Shark has always been the special horse. To lose him and then come back to win a race I could only dream about winning ... I don't know how to put it."

Jamie Lenes, a loan officer at a mortgage company in Columbia, bred Baby Shark (Dover Ridge-Loaded for Bear, by Bear Hunt) and then sold him for next to nothing as a yearling in 1999 when he got out of the horse business. Turner bought Baby Shark after his ninth race.

"He was a dream come true for someone like me who's obsessed with speed horses," Turner said. "There was none faster than him."

With a pedigree worth hardly anything, Baby Shark raced 18 times with seven wins, six seconds and two thirds. He won four stakes and earned $251,447. He was "just a little gray fellow," Feliciano said, who drank beer with his groom, captured the hearts of humans and led in every race he ran, including his last.

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