The dejected looks on the faces of Howard and Sondra Bender at Laurel Race Course yesterday were as sullen as the rainy weather.
The Benders' 4-year-old colt, Maryland Moon, has developed some filling in his right foreleg and will miss Saturday's Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita Park.
The horse had been entered last week for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Mile after finishing second in the Washington D.C. International at Laurel.
"This is a game where things can change day by day or even minute by minute," Sondra Bender said.
Added her husband: "You almost have be crazy to get involved in this sport."
The injury is not career-threatening but means the horse will not run again this year.
"I'll let him down a little bit, and then he'll spend a couple of months at the farm [Glade Valley near Frederick, which the Benders own with Robert Leonard]," said trainer Larry Murray. "He seems to improve as he gets older, so we are hoping he comes back better than ever next year."
The Benders plan to attend the Breeders' Cup and have a rooting interest in Rhapsodic, who will run in the Juvenile Fillies race. The couple bred the horse, still own her dam, Tamanaco Day, and race her half-brother, Sunny Boca, who finished fourth yesterday in the Japan Racing Association Handicap at Laurel.
Guida group: non-players
A source close to the situation said yesterday that the Guida Group, 15 New Jersey investors who own 50 percent of the equity in Laurel but have no voting stock, is taking a neutral stance in the battle for control of Laurel/Pimlico by current track operator Joe De Francis and his estranged partners, Tom and Bob Manfuso.
The source, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, said that Lou Guida is the nominal head of the group but only owns about 15 percent of the stock. He said Guida cannot speak for the entire block of investors and that the group has declined any involvement in litigation initiated by the Manfuso brothers against De Francis and does not plan to join the Manfusos financially in an attempt to buy him out.
In an article in yesterday's Washington Post, Lou Guida said that he sides with the Manfusos and that if they gain control of the tracks, he might increase his stake in the ownership of the two tracks.
But the source said Guida can only speak personally and his comments do not reflect the sentiment of the entire group. He said the group involvement is only that of a passive investor and that it will only get involved if the ownership changes and there is some financial restructuring.
According to Maryland Racing Commission records, there are four major stockholders in the Guida Group who each own about 15 percent of the shares. In addition to Guida, they are Joseph J. Grano Jr., Julius and Sandra S. Newman and Ira Lampert.
Pescagani wires field
Under a hand-ride by new jockey Edgar Prado, the 3-year-old colt Pescagani led from start to finish on a sloppy track and won the $54,300 Japan Racing Association Handicap at Laurel.
It was the first start for the colt for his new trainer Barclay Tagg.
Owner Vince Drecchio said he made the change because "the magic" he once had with the colt's former trainer "was gone. Things just weren't clicking anymore."
Pescagani could run in the Northern Dancer Stakes and Annapolis Handicap at Laurel before shipping to Florida with Tagg's main string in mid-December.