Last year, Judy Kane stood in the Maryland Million winner's circle weeping with joy.
Yesterday, she stood outside, shedding tears of dismay, wondering if her horse, Reputed Testamony, was alive.
Her husband, Matt, had just commandeered a golf cart and careened across the infield at Laurel Race Course to see if their horse had survived the first near-fatal spill in the eight-year history of the Maryland Million Classic.
The 6-year-old thoroughbred, favored in the betting to win his second straight Classic, had collided with another horse during the running of the $150,000 event and sent his jockey, former national champion Kent Desormeaux, hurtling into the dirt.
The spill, initiated by the breakdown of Root Boy, the second-favored horse, occurred near the five-eighths pole on the backside of the track and overshadowed a 3 1/4 -length victory by Forry Cow How, the third Maryland Million winner saddled yesterday by his 63-year-old trainer, Ron Cartwright.
"This horse, he is just like a member of our family. My heart is just gone," Mrs. Kane said. "I can't see him. What happened to him? What happened? He didn't come across the finish line."
Edgar Prado, Laurel's leading jockey, was aboard Root Boy, and had just eased him behind pacesetter Ameri Valay during the early running of the 1 3/16-mile race when, he said, "I heard something pop. I tried to pull him up, but he started going sideways. Then all of a sudden another horse hit me in the back."
It was Desormeaux on Reputed Testamony.
Reputed Testamony jumped to his feet after the collision and ran off the track.
"He just had some cuts and scrapes," Matt Kane said.
"I was right behind [on Reputed Testamony]. I didn't have any place to go," said Desormeaux, who suffered whiplash.
"I'm sore in the neck," he said, but added that he is otherwise OK. However, Desormeaux did cancel his mount in the last race, Lady Beware.
Prado, meanwhile, had bruised his left arm, but like Desormeaux, also escaped serious injury.
Root Boy suffered a condylar fracture of his right foreleg, according to Laurel/Pimlico vice president of racing Lenny Hale.
"But he could get up and walk onto the horse ambulance," Hale said. "He is in his stall, standing in a supportive cast, and looks like he will survive."
The horse arrived at the New Bolton Center equine hospital in Kennett Square, Pa., last night for further observation and possible surgery.
Even though Root Boy survived, there was another casualty earlier on the card when 2-year-old colt Missile's Halo fractured both sesamoids in a front leg and was euthanized.
The victory in the Classic was the first Maryland Million win for Forry Cow How, his jockey, Larry Reynolds, and his owners, Eddie and Binnie Houghton of Buckingham Farm in Chestertown. Binnie Houghton's father, Anderson Fowler, has won the Classic three times.
RTC The victory capped a day of surprising results and a number of wins for the offspring of several unsung Maryland stallions, such as Horatius, the sire of Forry Cow How.
The card is limited to offspring of Maryland stallions and is the one racing day of the year when the state's breeding farms take center stage.
Leading sires of the day were Caveat, the 1983 Belmont Stakes winner, who stands at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City and was represented by two winners (Awad and Bewarned), and Lord Gaylord, who stands at Worthington Farms in Glyndon and also had two winners, Gayquare and Lady Beaumont.
Awad's owner, Jim Ryan, pledged the horse's winner's share of $55,000 to help cover operating expenses for a new backstretch dormitory complex, but said he will only donate the money if it is matched by other owners and trainers. No one came forward yesterday, but Ryan said he is optimistic that there will eventually be other matching gifts.
The eighth Maryland Million produced a number of multiple wins for several owners, trainers and jockeys.
Two of Cartwright's three victories were for the Mea Culpa Stable of Bill and Phyllis Dixon, who won a starter handicap with Gayquare and the Ladies Turf with Mz. Zill Bear. Their feat matched the two victories by Ryan with Awad and Bewarned, both trained by David Donk.
Charles Fenwick Jr. saddled his third straight Maryland Million Steeplechase winner when Rolling Cart led wire-to-wire in the second race. Prado ended up the day with three wins, and Jorge Velasquez and Freddy Castillo both had two.
When Run Alden scored in the Juvenile Nursery, Jerry Robb, his trainer, tied Billy Boniface and Virgil "Buddy" Raines as the winningest Maryland Million trainer. The colt's owner-breeder, Hal Clagett of Upper Marlboro, tied Fowler and Glade Valley Farm as the Million's leading breeders.
A Maryland Million record of 24,304 saw the races at Laurel and six other in-state wagering outlets. The total of $2,604,901 was the third-highest handle for a Maryland Million card. But when simulcast races from New York, New Jersey and California are added in the mix, the total in-state gross handle for the day exceeded $4 million, a Maryland Million record.
BEST IN SHOW
Winning Maryland Million Grooms, Best Turned-out Horses:
Starter Handicap: Chris Christopolos (Asserche)
Steeplechase: Keith Lewis (Rolling Cart)
Lassie: Donna Lacey (Joyful Touch)
Starter Handicap II: Graham Grasick (Piece D' Bon Bon)
Nursery: Rick Hansen (Don's Sho)
Oaks: Bob Mead (Vallation)
Turf: Todd Sims (Roovan)
Distaff: Jenile Tapscott (Silver Tango)
Sprint: Lisa Wheatley (One Tuff Oop)
Ladies: John Merryman (Final Deputy)
Classic: Sharon Houck (Frugal Doc)
Juvenile Turf: Benjamin Stubbs (Christopher Twist)
Starter Handicap: Gayquare
Steeplechase: Rolling Cart
Lassie: Lady Beaumont
Starter H'cap II: Heading Home
Nursery: Run Alden
Oaks: Champion Jay
Distaff: Star Minister
Sprint: Military Look
Ladies: Mz. Zill Bear
Classic: Forry Cow How
Juvenile Turf: Bewarned