UPPER MARLBORO -- Proceeds from racing at Marlboro Race Track are earmarked for charity, but for jockey Albert Delgado, the day was for profit.
He rode Kayacan to victory in the $15,000 Marlboro Nursery yesterday at Marlboro, earning a nice paycheck in what is normally a day off on the Maryland racing circuit.
Kayacan earned $9,000 for Turkeli Farms, from which Delgado earns a $900 commission.
"I love it here," Delgado said. "I come every year and I get to ride the cream of the crop. Why take a day off?"
Marlboro races just two days a year as a fund-raiser for the Therapeutic Riding Program at the Prince George's Equestrian Center. And while 10 of the 11 races are for minimal purse money, the Nursery is an exception.
In the Nursery, Kayacan was the horse to watch. Before yesterday, he had won two of three career starts. His lone loss was in an added-money race at The Meadowlands on the turf.
With Kayacan back on the dirt and facing easier competition, the only question was if he could handle the tight Marlboro turns. With Delgado aboard, he passed the test, despite some early traffic problems. He overtook second-place Basil's Ghost to win by two lengths.
"It was tight a couple times on the first turn, but once I got to the outside, he was gaining with every stride," Delgado said. "I knew I would win going into the turn."
For the day, Delgado had two wins, two seconds, two thirds and three fourths. It put him in solid position to win the Marlboro riding title. His top competition comes from Walter Cullum, who rode three winners yesterday. The riding champ earns a $1,000 bonus.
A bonus of $1,500 awaits the leading trainer.
Marlboro's showcase event will be next week's $40,000 Home Team Sports Marlboro Cup.
It is the sixth edition of the so-called revival at Marlboro, the quaint track known more for its destructive fire in 1980 and its link to former Gov. Marvin Mandel than its racing history.
However, if there is an equine Marlboro history, it revolved around the Marlboro Nursery, the first stakes race run on a half-mile track.