Petro brothers team to win Laurel stakes

Jockey Nick rides Ironton, trained by Michael, to close victory in `Dancer'

Horse Racing

November 23, 2003|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

The Petro brothers carried on in the winner's circle as if they were the Smothers brothers.

After Nick Petro rode the Michael Petro-trained Ironton to victory in the $75,000 Northern Dancer Stakes yesterday at Laurel Park, Nick said the brothers weren't always this jovial. Being brothers who ride to and from races together isn't always a kick.

"When I screw up he's got an hour to yell at me," Nick said. "I even get yelled at in the morning. It's like being married twice."

Nick, 40, gallops horses for Michael, 38, in the morning and then rides them in the afternoon. They've worked together nearly 20 years. Nick rides every horse Michael trains - at Delaware Park most of the year and at Laurel during the winter.

They were all smiles after teaming up for the 13th time with Ironton, the bettors' fourth choice at 5-1. This was only the colt's third win, although he's usually competitive. Ironton finished second three times in stakes last year at Laurel: Maryland Million Nursery behind Cherokee's Boy, Laurel Futurity behind Toccet and Maryland Juvenile Championship behind Foufa's Warrior.

In this race for 3-year-old Maryland-breds, the son of Not For Love and the broodmare Baccata battled Boca Bound early for the lead and then, around the far turn, powered to a five-length lead. At that point, it was a question of whether he could hold off the closers in the 1 1/8 -mile race.

Three came charging. In a thrilling four-horse finish, Ironton held on by a nose. James claimed second, a neck in front of Conservation, who finished a neck ahead of High Watermark.

Foufa's Warrior, the even-money favorite (coupled with Boca Bound), was nowhere in the picture. He finished last in the eight-horse field.

"I don't have any excuses," said Ramon Dominguez, his jockey. "He settled OK but didn't have any punch."

Ironton paid $12.80 to win and headed a $58.60 exacta and $270 trifecta. His time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1 minute, 50.32 seconds.

Asked about his spurt around the far turn, Nick Petro said: "I just wanted to see if I could break their hearts. ... He ran his hardest race of the year right there. He gave me everything he had. It was like a freight train pulling me."

NOTE. Boxing returns to Laurel Park on Saturday as the Southern Atlantic Amateur Boxing Association presents "Boxing at the Park." The matches for all weight classes will begin at 1:15 p.m. in the Carriage Room. Admission is $3 and includes admission to the track.

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