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Bad luck can't scratch Land Running victory


LAUREL -- The jockey had chickenpox.

The filly cut her hind leg jumping around in her stall.

But both Clarence "Jo Jo" Ladner and Land Running recovered in time to turn in a stakes-winning effort yesterday at Laurel Race Course.

The Louisiana-born Ladner, 27, acquired chickenpox from his three young children a couple of weeks ago.

But his first winning ride after the illness came at a fortuitous time -- the $60,000 Jameela Stakes.

Even though they had an outside post, Ladner and Land Running took the lead away from expected pace-setter Jazzy One by the time they reached the first turn.

Then Ladner slowed the pace down to a crawl and had plenty of horse left to hold off an erratic-running Jazzy One in the stretch. That filly bore out in the lane and ended up finishing in the middle of the track.

For trainer Berkley Kern Jr., the victory was especially sweet. He had picked Land Running out of an $8,500 claimer three months ago for his longtime client, Walter F. Murray, of Leesburg, Va.

"I needed a horse for Mr. Murray, and just got lucky," said Kern, 40.

He was a little concerned Saturday when Land Running jumped up after rolling in her stall at the Bowie Training Center and cut her hind leg. "She was just feeling too good," Kern said. "I would have scratched her if the leg became swollen. But it responded to treatment."

Kern is a complete horseman. He not only trains his horses, he also rides most of them, including galloping stakes filly Silver Tango for his buddy Gary Capuano.

"This filly reminds me of Silver Tango, although she's a good sprinter and Land Running wants to go long," Kern said.

Kern first knew he had a good horse when he worked Land Running against a tough older horse and she beat him. He also equipped her with blinkers and put her on Lasix after she bled.

"We'll nominate her to the Black-Eyed Susan and races like that," Kern said. "But we'll pick our spots. She's a Maryland-bred and Maryland Million-nominated, so we've got plenty of options."

* The locally based Candy Stable is selling their stakes-winning 3-year-old Dr. Unright to Saudi Arabian interests.

Trainer Ben Perkins Jr. confirmed by phone from Florida that the deal is expected to be completed today and that the colt is being sold to Buckram Oak Farm. "They are going to send him to Saudi Arabia and race him there," Perkins said.

The horse won the Whirlaway Stakes last weekend at Aqueduct and had been nominated to the Triple Crown.

The price is reported to be $500,000. The Candy Stable, comprised of Herb Moelis of Middletown, Del., and Baltimoreans Frank Wright, Joseph Keelty and Leslie Legum, bought Dr. Unright in a 2-year-old, in-training sale for $50,000 last year. They won two stakes and $132,000 with him before he was sold.

Surely Six, the Candy Stable's other good 3-year-old, finished sixth in the Fountain of Youth Stakes and will return to Maryland instead of running in the upcoming Florida Derby. "We thought he ran a good race, especially after breaking from the 11-post," Perkins said.

Surely Six will be pointed to the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on April 7.

NOTES: About 300 racing fans turned out yesterday for Laurel's first "Town Meeting." Suggestions ranged from bringing back the Pick 3 to improving the quality of the food. "We were pleased with the turnout, got a lot of good suggestions and want to make these sessions regular occurrences," said track operator Joe De Francis. . . . Jerry Robb-trained Rainbow Prospect beat Quick Digger yesterday in the Boulevard Stakes at Philadelphia Park.

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