This afternoon Carulli picked apprentice Matthew Straight, who rewarded those in attendance with three consecutive victories: Bomber D Back ($9.40-third), Court Band ($14.60-fourth) and D D T and Me ($7.40-fifth). For his success, half-priced beer flowed from the taps for one hour and 20 minutes (1:35 to 2:55).
Straight graduated from Chris McCarron’s North American Racing Academy in June and rode in Kentucky before arriving in Maryland in late October with 18 wins on his resume. After a slow start where he won just two races from 30 mounts in his first month at Laurel, the 22-year-old is quickly filling the void after top bug boy Sheldon Russell left for New York. Since November 26, Straight has 10 victories from 35 mounts.
“It feels good to get the ball rolling here in Maryland and hopefully there will be bigger things to come,” added Straight, who also won three races in a day at Ellis Park over the summer. “Things were a little slow but we kept persevering and working as many horses as possible in the morning-showing people we really want it.”
McCarron is one of nine Maryland-based riders to capture the Eclipse Award for outstanding apprentice. Ronnie Franklin (1978), Alberto Delgado (1982), Allen Stacy (1986), Kent Desormeaux (1987), Mike Luzzi (1989), Mark Johnston (1990), Jeremy Rose (2001) and Ryan Fogelsonger (2002) have also brought home the hardware to the state.
Straight will ride with the weight allowance until August 13, 2009.
LAUREL SIMULCAST TO HOST A PAIR OF GRADE I RACES FROM ARGENTINA
Following Saturday’s nine-race card, the Laurel Park simulcast signal will feature six races from Hipodromo de San Isidro in Argentina, including a pair of Grade I events.
The Maryland Jockey Club tracks have been the North American hub for the Latin American Racing Channel (LARC) since December 2006, providing races from Argentina, Uruguay and Chile.
The first race on the simulcast is the $426,885 (US) Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini, South America’s most important race. The mile and a half test on the turf drew a full field of 20, including Mi Amiguito who will be ridden by Maryland-based Horacio Karamanos. The 35-year-old has been a mainstay at Pimlico and Laurel since 2002 but relocated to his native country for the winter after Maryland Million day two months ago. Mi Amiguito has finished in the money in all five starts this year.
Two races later, Karamanos will be aboard Reelants in the Felix De Alzaga Unzue. The about five furlong race on the grass drew a field 14 top sprinters, including Pryka and Crazy Plus, who have finished 1-2 in back-to-back Grade I events in Argentina in the last two months.