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Florida-bound colt stops, wins

The 3-year-old colt Berry Parkway made a profitable stopover at Laurel Park yesterday on his way to Florida.

The horse rejoined the local stable of trainer John Salzman after spending the summer at Chicago-area tracks under the care of John "Jumbo" Gural.

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Despite a radical rise in class -- the horse was beaten in a condition allowance race in his last start at Hawthorne Race Course -- Berry Parkway deftly handled added-money company as a 14-1 long shot yesterday in the 10-furlong Japan Racing Association Stakes on firm turf.

Reserved off an agonizingly slow pace, which looked like the running of a three-mile steeplechase at Fair Hill, Berry Parkway assumed the lead at the top of the stretch and drew off under jockey Rick Wilson to a 4 1/2 -length victory over second choice Myrmidon.

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The $30,000 first-place prize money nearly doubled the horse's career earnings.

"John [Salzman] said this horse doesn't like to be in front, so I tried to keep him back a bit. It was hard since they were going so slow," Wilson said. "I didn't want to fight him and throw him down. Finally, on the backside, he settled. He was still pulling on the bit, but was going along easily enough."

The pace was so strange that Honorable Flight, who had never been on the lead in his life, assumed the role of pacesetter, pressed by New York invader Little Fran.

Wilson was not the only jockey having trouble restraining his horse.

Mark Johnston on favored Jimlew, who finished fifth, said: "Everything seemed to go wrong. This is the kind of horse that likes to stay back 10 or 12 lengths off the pace. But they went three quarters in 1:14 and change, so it caused some problems."

If the slow pace rattled some of the equine as well as human contestants, it worked well for Wilson, who had plenty of horse left for a strong finish.

The horse's victory was not entirely unpredictable. Berry Parkway is a son of good grass sire, Kris S., who also produced Breeders' Cup Turf winner Prized as well as such other main track standouts as Brocco and Hollywood Wildcat.

Salzman started out with the horse last year at 2. "Then he bucked his shins, so we sent him to the farm," Salzman said. "The owner [Carl Schwietert] lives in Chicago and wanted to see his horse run, so he shipped him to Arlington Park. I got him back about three weeks ago because he's a grass horse and I'm going to Gulfstream Park for the winter."

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Salzman is splitting his string, leaving 28 horses at Laurel but shipping another 20 to Florida. The outfit is especially well-known for its prowess with 2-year-olds but lately has added a turf flair to its resume.

In addition to Berry Parkway, Salzman has won recent grass stakes with Gulf Dream (Vanlandingham Stakes) and Tee Kay (Martha Washington Stakes).

The late-season shuffling of stables on the Maryland circuit has begun. It's been intensified this year since Pimlico Race Course is shutting down for training on Dec. 1.

Vinnie Blengs became the first major outfit to leave Laurel for the winter, shipping his large string to Gulfstream Park last week. Pimlico-based Dick Delp takes over Blengs' Laurel barn.

Wilson said he is thinking about riding in Florida this winter. He has parted company with Ben Perkins Sr., who rode Wilson as stable jockey during the Gulfstream meet.

"But John [Salzman] wants me to go down there as well as a couple of other outfits like Sonny Hine, so I'm thinking about it," Wilson said.

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NOTES: Ben Perkins Jr., trainer of runner-up Myrmidon, said that another one of his runners, Meritocrat, who finished 10th in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, has been sent to Dubai to race for his owner, Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum. . . . John Scanlan, trainer of beaten favorite Jimlew, has changed his plans for the winter. Instead of shipping 20 head to the Fair Grounds track in New Orleans for the winter, he's going to Florida. "I'll stable at Hialeah," Scanlan said. "There weren't enough stakes that fit my horses in Louisiana."


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