Class Concern pulls upset in Finney

Bouchers take two bows, winning as trainer, rider

Horse Racing

September 12, 2004|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

The scream of joy came from a woman on the track apron, and then the woman, still whooping it up, burst into the winner's circle. Class Concern had just captured the Humphrey S. Finney Stakes yesterday at Pimlico Race Course, and Lilith Boucher, his trainer, was beside herself. It was about to get worse.

Boucher's cell phone rang. She answered and screamed again. It was her assistant, calling from Middleburg, Va., saying the Boucher-trained Class Sprite, in his second race over jumps, had just won a big race and defeated a hurdle champion.

Boucher could hardly utter a sentence, or, more accurately, she couldn't stop talking long enough to put a period at the end of one. Class Concern had also scored a major upset, defeating filly Richetta, the 1-5 favorite making her first start on turf and first against males.

Bombarded with congratulations from well-wishers and questions from reporters, Boucher graciously responded as best she could, considering her exhilaration. What's more, Richard Boucher, her husband, had ridden Class Concern.

"Are you still talking?" someone asked Lilith Boucher, jokingly.

"Yes! Yes!" she said. "Who knows when this is ever going to happen again?"

The Bouchers and four employees care for 30 horses - show horses, jumpers, flat runners, fox hunters - at a farm in Unionville, Pa. The Bouchers do everything from cleaning stalls to walking horses to driving vans. Lilith Boucher, 40, drove the van that carried Class Concern to Pimlico, while Richard Boucher, 38, rode the first race at Middleburg, finishing third aboard McDynamo, last year's champion steeplechaser, and then drove the nearly two hours to Pimlico to ride Class Concern.

"It's days like this that make it all worthwhile," Lilith Boucher said.

The 7-2 second choice, Class Concern had recently contested the Virginia Derby and two allowance races at Saratoga. The Humphrey S. Finney, a $75,000 turf stakes for 3-year-old Maryland-breds, seemed an easier spot.

But bettors vastly preferred the filly Richetta, who led until the stretch and then faded to third. Robin Graham, her trainer, said Richetta kept changing leads early, indicating she wasn't happy about something.

Class Concern paid $9.20 and headed a $35 exacta with Please Smile second. A gelded son of Concern and the mare Class Vow, Class Concern completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1 minute, 49.95 seconds.

As Lilith Boucher tried, finally, to leave the winner's circle, her cell phone rang again.

"Hey, he won!" she told the caller. "Did you see?"

NOTES: Betting for Timonium's eight-day meet that ended Labor Day was down from a year ago in all categories. In-state betting on Timonium dropped 7.25 percent from $3,104,737 to $2,879,735. Out-of-state betting on Timonium decreased 6.95 percent from $3,280,866 to $3,052,955. And betting on-track at Timonium fell 3.9 percent from $2,950,767 to $2,836,143. ... The Maryland Jockey Club is showing a "Maryland Million moment" on TV screens at tracks and off-track-betting sites through Oct. 8, the day before the Maryland Million at Pimlico. Yesterday's moment featured Master Speaker winning the Turf in 1988. Today's showcases Safely Kept winning the Distaff in 1989.

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