By Your Leave capped a weeklong stakes-winning spree for jockey Mario Pino yesterday when she defeated favored Tennis Lady by a length in the $55,050 Anne Arundel Handicap at Laurel Race Course.
The race marked Pino's third stakes victory in his past four tries.
Last weekend the 32-year-old rider won the Walter Haight Handicap with Gala Spinaway, followed that with a win on Smart'n Noble in the Heavenly Cause Stakes on Tuesday and was third aboard Regal Victress in the Straight Deal Stakes on Thanksgiving Day before yesterday's upset aboard By Your Leave.
Andrea Seefeldt set some unbelievably slow fractions on the lead with Tennis Lady, getting the first six furlongs in 1 minute, 17 seconds, although she was pressed by Larry Reynolds on Double Sixes. The final time for the nine furlongs was 1:52 2/5, the slowest running of the race at the 1 1/8 -mile distance.
Dick Small, trainer of graded-stakes winner Tennis Lady, offered no excuses. "The pace couldn't have been any slower," he said.
Pino said By Your Leave "just hit another gear" in the stretch, when she closed rapidly in the middle of the track and wore down the front runners. The Anne Arundel was her first stakes try, although it was her fourth win around two turns. Double Sixes finished third.
The winning horse was purchased by King Ranch heiress Helen Kleberg Groves as a yearling for $150,000 at the Keeneland (Ky.) Summer Sales. She then turned her over to her daughter, Henrietta Alexander, to train.
Alexander has a house on King Ranch property in Unionville, Pa., but said that she spends most of her time training her five-horse string at Delaware Park.
Two years ago, Alexander was the first female trainer to win a Grade I stakes at Saratoga.
Even though Small and owner-breeders Robert and Jane Meyerhoff lost with Tennis Lady, they raced two other winners yesterday. Their 2-year-old colt, Private High, broke his maiden at Philadelphia Park and their 2-year-old filly, Up An Eighth, won her second straight start in the sixth race at Laurel.
Both horses are eligible to run in the filly and colt divisions of the Maryland Juvenile Championship at Laurel in two weeks.
Star Minister retired
The Meyerhoffs announced yesterday that they have retired their champion Maryland-bred filly Star Minister and will breed her this spring to Broad Brush, the all-time leading money-winning Maryland-bred who they raced and now stand at Gainesway Farm in Lexington, Ky.
The filly refused to be saddled on Oct. 23 when she was favored in the Stefanita Stakes at Laurel. She was so rank in the paddock that Small was forced to scratch her.
Meyerhoff said yesterday he didn't attend the race, "but I heard about her antics and we decided that she was telling us that she had just had enough."
Star Minister won 10 of 21 starts and earned $458,649. Among her victories were the Grade II Cotillion Handicap, the Maryland Million Distaff and the Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship.
Meyerhoff was recently named U.S. breeder of the year by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders' Association in Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have bred and raced five stakes winners this year, including Grade I winner Valley Crossing.
Edgar Prado, who sprained his ankle in a fall at Laurel on Thursday, could resume riding on Tuesday. He is named to ride both One Tuff Oop and Apparitiontofollow in the featured Dave's Friend Stakes. . . . Post time for Saturdays, starting next weekend, is noon. . . . Maryland-based horses fared well, but failed to win in recent out-of-town stakes. Billy Boniface-trained Irish Forever finished second yesterday in the $250,000 Miesque Stakes at Hollywood Park, giving five pounds to Tricky Code, who beat her by a length. . . . Buckingham Farm's Forry Cow How finished third on Friday in the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. His stablemate, Little Casino, was scratched from a companion race. . . . John Alecci's Asserche finished sixth yesterday in the Brooklyn Handicap at Aqueduct, but Alecci's Vet Jet won the 10th race for $25,000 claimers. . . . Groovy Feeling , surprise winner of the Grade II Ladies Handicap at Aqueduct yesterday, has a Maryland connection. Her dam, Millie And Me, was bred in Maryland by Dr. G. G. Meredith and his wife, Jayne Meredith, and was trained at Pimlico by Angela "Sis" Price.