Wood So's baby is one in a Million Mare to carry foal, jockey in race


Some working mothers never get much rest -- even if they live the life of a pampered thoroughbred.

In what is believed to be a Maryland Million first, one of the runners on tomorrow's 12-race card at Laurel Race Course is pregnant.

Her name? Wood So. And she's quite a career woman.

The 6-year-old mare will be carrying a bit more than the weight of her jockey, Mario Pino, in the $100,000 Port of Maryland Distaff Handicap.

Inside is a 5-month-old fetus "about the size of a soccer ball," said Dr. Bob Vallance, the veterinarian who regularly checks her health.

No, she doesn't get morning sickness, although only certain medications can be prescribed. And her diet has stayed the same. She has been examined once by ultrasound, and the baby is in fine shape, although no tests have been performed to determine its sex.

The big change is in Wood So's mood. She is much calmer now that her hormones no longer are raging, said her trainer, Katy Voss of West Friendship.

"She's more relaxed when she trains," Voss said.

After Wood So injured her leg before the Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel last winter and was withdrawn, her owner, Louisiana oilman John Franks, sent her to Kentucky and mated her to his stallion, $1 million earner Homebuilder.

"About June 1, I got a call from Mr. Franks, and he wanted to send her back to race," Voss said.

It is not unusual for fillies and mares to compete at least for a few months into their first pregnancies. Once they have a foal, few are returned to competition unless they are infertile.

Trainer Dick Small remembers one of his runners, Owned By All. "After she was bred, she earned another $50,000 and won a stakes race," Small said. "The experience didn't hurt the subsequent foal. He was named Half Gaavo and placed in stakes."

Horses have a longer gestation period than humans -- 11 months compared with nine -- "and their abdomens are so much larger that there is plenty of room for the baby," Vallance said. "And ladies that are athletic seem to have less problems delivering than ones that don't exercise."

Still, Voss said tomorrow's race is the last for Wood So. In four seasons of racing, she has won 11 races and earned $510,155.

Pino said he is going to be careful if, in the heat of a Maryland Million stretch duel, he has to use the whip. "I never hit her near the belly, anyway," he said. "Sometimes I just show her the whip or if I have to hit her, I aim high on her flank. She's not much of a whip horse, anyway. She always gives 150 percent."

Retirement for Wood So will mean life at Franks' Florida farm. "She might get bored," Voss said. "At Laurel, her stall faces the racetrack, and she loves watching the races in the afternoon.

"I'd love to see her go out a winner. She has trained up to tomorrow's race superbly. But it's time for her to start another career. We know, at least, that the baby she is carrying will know where the finish line is."


What: Eighth running of the Maryland Million, a 12-race card restricted to the offspring of Maryland stallions. Purses total $1 million.

Where: Laurel Race Course

When: Tomorrow

Post time: 12:30 p.m.

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