Camacho can't get a win but still takes riding title

Apprentice `speechless'

Cox earns trainer honors

Horse Racing

April 18, 2005|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

There was no last-minute drama in the competition for the jockeys' title on the final day at Laurel Park yesterday.

When Mario Pino raced to a wire-to-wire victory on Yo Can Do in the featured seventh race, the meet championship was assured for apprentice Eric Camacho, who was shut out on the card.

Camacho virtually guaranteed his first major crown with three winners Saturday, pulling into a three-victory lead over veteran Ramon Dominguez, who had a brief shot to tie Camacho after scoring with The Polski Prince in yesterday's sixth race.

In the end, Camacho finished two ahead with 60 winners in a meeting that began Jan. 1 at Pimlico Race Course and resumed at the refurbished Laurel track 26 days later.

"I'm speechless. It was a battle to the end. I'm very honored to be in this position," said Camacho, 21, who began riding only a year ago. "My agent [John Salzman Jr.] has done a great job, and so many top trainers have supported us during the entire meet."

Camacho was second in last fall's Pimlico standings with 53 first places and tied for first in the abbreviated fair meet at Timonium.

The training title went to veteran Kenny Cox, the first of his career. Twenty-nine of his 32 victories were for Michael Gill, who dominated the owner standings for the 11th straight meeting with 42 winners.

"It's just huge," Cox said. "Early in the meet, you never think about these kinds of things. The last three weeks, it's been on my mind 24/7. Anytime you can win a meet against the Maryland guys - Dale [Capuano], Howard [Wolfendale], [Scott] Lake - it's no easy circuit to beat. It's any awful big step for us."

Gill has won 464 races at Laurel and Pimlico since coming to Maryland in October 2001.

Final attendance and handle figures for the two-track meeting will not be available for several days.

Chief operating officer Lou Raffetto said how the new Laurel track would handle the elements was "our big concern" during the meeting. "And we're extremely happy with that."

He added that despite 20 percent fewer horses on the grounds this winter, the fact that the meet was able to offer cards just as full "was a plus. My gut tells me the fields were up a little bit."

Live racing will shift to Pimlico for the Preakness meeting, beginning Wednesday.

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