Miller set to ride off into sunset Horse racing notes


LAUREL -- Donnie Miller will ride Ritchie Trail in the Jameela Stakes tomorrow and then ride off into the sunset.

The 27-year-old jockey, winner of 2,457 races in his decade in Maryland, actually is leaving on a jet plane Sunday morning for San Francisco, where he'll re-start his career.

The highlight of Miller's performances in his home state was his victory on Deputed Testamony at 17-1 odds in the 1983 Preakness.

He also was the principal rider on Little Bold John, who accounted for the largest single portion of the $30,154,734 that Miller's mounts have earned.

Ritchie Trail, trained by Charley Hadry the elder, will be the second choice in the $755,000 Jameela, a mile and a sixteenth for 3-year-old fillies.

The favorite, probably odds-on, will be Wide Country, trained by Bob Camac. In her last three outings Wide Country has won the Maryland Juvenile Fillies and the Heavenly Cause, for 2-year-olds, and the Flirtation in her first 3-year-old start.

She has won all three by four lengths or more. Santos Chavez has been her rider and will be again.

In Ritchie Trail's last outing she prevailed by a nose in the Gay Matelda on Feb. 2, with Miller riding.

Miller said he was leaving for California because he was "tired of the same old routine." He is seventh in the jockeys' standings for the current meet, but despairs of the chance to ride horses like Deputed Testamony or Little Bold John anymore.

"A lot of jocks would like to have the career I've had," Miller said of his time in Maryland.

He will begin his California career at Golden Gate Fields, riding mostly for veteran trainer Bryan Webb. He does not yet have an agent, Miller said, "but it's a break to start with the second winningest outfit there."

* IF YOU CAN'T BUY IT, SELL IT: Lou Guida, whose second offer to buy controlling interest in Laurel was rejected yesterday by Joe De Francis, said he might resume efforts to sell his half interest in the track.

"I've had some casual interest in it," Guida said. He added that he didn't think he would make any further offers to De Francis. "After my last offer, he wrote me that he is not interested in selling at any price," Guida said.

Guida owns 50 percent of the equity stock in the limited partnership that owns Laurel, but owns no voting stock in the corporation that manages the facility. De Francis owns the majority of the voting stock.

Guida, a major standardbred owner, added that he is not interested in buying Rosecroft Raceway and Delmarva Downs, the state's harness tracks, unless he would eventually sell his interests in Laurel. He said owning both harness and thoroughbred tracks would be "a direct conflict. Unfortunately, buying Rosecroft is an immediate thing. It's got to be done now. The harness industry [in Maryland] needs a white knight. But I'm boxed in by owning part of Laurel."

* FREE RIDE: Fly So Free will be 9-5 or shorter in the simulcast Fountain of Youth tomorrow. There isn't much in the race to challenge him, but he's giving from 3 to 12 pounds and he drew the rail post position, not an advantage.

* OLDIES BUT GOODIES: There were smart remarks all over the track yesterday about the Geritol Double after 11-year-old Rollodka won the first race and 9-year-old Henry John the second for a $97.60 payoff. But Geritol wasn't the medicine.

Rollodka, the hardy son of Rollicking, was making his 105th start but his first on Lasix -- generically furosemide, the diuretic medication for "bleeders."

Not so Henry John, who was starting for the 81st time. The victory was his 18th. Rollodka's 26th victory added $5,400 to his previous earnings of $521,969. In his better years he won stakes like the Resolution and J. Edgar Hoover in Maryland.

Remarkably, both old horses have had only three owners. Technically Henry John has had four, but the second and fourth are Cheryle M. Ziegler, who lost him to a $16,000 claim on Oct. 16, 1984, and claimed him back for the same amount on Sept. 28, 1989.

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