After tracking Ready to Cruise to the far turn, Peace Town and jockey Julian Pimentel forged to the lead, opening daylight on all but In the Juice in the 1-1/16th mile test. In the Juice rallied inside the leader going to the wire but his effort fell a half-length short. Royal Stare finished third.
“The thinking was to get him to relax, which he did pretty good. The rest was just taking him around there,” Pimentel said. “I knew I had a lot of horse. I wasn’t aware that horse was there for a little bit but when he realized it he just took off. He is a nice horse. You can do pretty much anything you’d like with him.”
Pimentel is a perfect three-for-three on the chestnut colt.
“He had a really good work last week,” said assistant trainer Tana Aubrey. “We felt pretty good coming in here.”
Trombetta was at Tampa Bay Downs Saturday where he saddled a pair of stakes runners, including Top Seed who won the $65,000 Inaugural Stakes. The 42-year-old finished third in the Maryland standings with 47 victories and in the last three years has blossomed into one of the nation’s top young conditioners. Starting in 2006 when he saddled Sweetnorthernsaint to a second place finish in the Preakness Stakes, the Baltimore native has watched his win total go from 53 the previous year to 117 this year. With four days remaining in the calendar year the barn has already earned a career-best $3.9 million. His owners now include Harry and Tom Meyerhoff, of Spectacular Bid fame, and Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos.
“I couldn’t be an happier,” said Trombetta from Florida. “It has been an amazing transformation. Step one is having clients who are willing to support you with nice horses in your care. Step two is having the right staff to take care of them. I am fortunate in both respects.”
Trainer Gary Capuano scratched Eyes On Versailles out of the race but with two victories on the closing day card, Capuano finished the year with 14 wins from 21 starters at Laurel with 20 in the money finishes since turning 45 on November 14.
NAPRAVNIK, LAKE AND COLE TAKE YEAR-ROUND TITLES
LAUREL, MD. 12-27-08---Rosie Napravnik, Scott Lake and Robert Cole wrapped up year-end titles at the major Maryland tracks for the calendar year in the jockey, trainer and owner divisions respectively after today’s final card of the season at Laurel Park.
Despite riding in the colony full-time for six months, Napravnik won her second riding championship in the state with 101 victories at Laurel and Pimlico Race Course during 2008, including 88 during the first two meets of the year. Craig Gibbs, who began the year as an apprentice, finished second, with 94 trips to the winners’ circle. After missing three months with a broken leg, the 20-year-old Napravnik returned to Laurel for the month of November before relocating to New York earlier this month.
“We had a really good winter meet (winning the stand with 62 victories) and did very well at Pimlico,” said Napravnik, who finished sixth nationally with 300 victories in 2006. “It was frustrating to get injured again but when healthy we had a good year.”
Lake, the nation’s second leading conditioner, saddled 113 winners at the major Maryland tracks during the campaign, 59 more than Dale Capuano to win his fourth consecutive title. The Lake barn had 25 multiple win days while capturing the Laurel winter, Pimlico spring and Laurel fall titles. The 43-year-old conditioner, who has horses stabled in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware and Florida has won 830 races at Pimlico and Laurel this decade. Only Capuano, who has visited the winners’ circle 831 times at the major Maryland tracks since 2000 has more victories.
“I am in awe when you sit back and think about what we accomplished,” said Lake, who ranks eighth all-time with 4,502 career winners. “I just wanted to train horses and it turned into this. We are proud of what we have achieved. I have to thank my Maryland assistant Hugh McMahon and before him Tim Hooper. They do an unbelievable job and it is a pleasure having them on my team.”
Cole, whose trainers include Lake, Howard Wolfendale and John Rigattieri, is the state’s top owner for the third straight year. Cole runners won 39 times from 118 starts, an impressive 33.1% rate, including four with four different trainers at Pimlico on May 9. The Baltimore County native currently leads the nation in wins (232 through Laurel’s December 27 program) and ranks in the top 15 in earnings.
“It has been fun. The trainers get these horses to run and work very hard,” said Cole. “The highlight of the year was May 9. I actually won three additional races that night at Penn National and Charles Town so that was a once in a lifetime accomplishment. My theory is not to waste races and not to put a horse in a race without a chance of winning. I am hoping to be a finalist for an Eclipse award and get a trip to Miami in February for the dinner.”
Cole and Lake will be honored at Laurel in-between races on Monday, January 19, 2009.
Apprentice Sheldon Russell won the Laurel Park fall riding title with 48 trips to the winners’ circle during the 17-week stand.
The 2009 racing season will begin Thursday, January 1. The 59-day stand will feature 17 stakes races, including a pair of Grade II sprint handicaps (Barbara Fritchie and General George) on President’s Day weekend. Live racing will be conducted four days a week on a Wednesday through Saturday schedule (with holiday exceptions). First post is 12:35 p.m.