An airplane shuttle service introduced Charles Oliver to an inner circle of Maryland horsemen. However, it has been a homebred 2-year-old that is making Oliver a regular to a more coveted circle.
Oliver's Twist, the first racehorse owned by Oliver, sped to victory in the $60,000 Rollicking Stakes yesterday at Laurel Park, taking Oliver to the winner's circle for the second time this month.
"I didn't expect two wins in two starts, that's for sure," said Oliver, 55, a full-time insurance man and part-time charter pilot from Bel Air. "Actually, I was just hoping to get my first start."
Oliver's Twist, named after his owner, scored a modest victory over $20,000 claimers in his debut two weeks ago. With that one-race career against claimers, Oliver's Twist went postward at 14-1 in yesterday's Rollicking, a definite long shot.
But he repeated his performance, rallying from off the pace with jockey Alberto Delgado to win yesterday's seven-furlong stakes race for 2-year-old Maryland breds. King's Float was six lengths back in second; Winds was third. Oliver's Twist finished the race in 1:23 4/5 and paid $31.60 $10.80 and $6.60, triggering a $181.40 exacta.
Trainer Bill Boniface, who met Oliver through his charter service and invited him to a private sale at Boniface's Bonita Farm in Darlington last fall, said the next goal is to get Oliver to purchase a second horse.
"He raised his hand at the right time and he had a horse," said Boniface. "I think he likes it now."
At one point, Oliver was getting impatient. The son of Horatius was scheduled to make his debut in May, but he bucked shins and had other physical difficulties, delaying his debut until two weeks ago.
While Oliver basked in glory, the day proved difficult for trainer Graham Motion, who handled Rollicking Stakes-favorite Gala Knockout and was coming off his first two-victory day on Thursday.
The hot streak ended quickly. Not only did Gala Knockout struggle to a seventh-place finish at 2-1, but Motion also had the misfortune of watching high-priced claimer Gala Gold Mine break down in the fourth race.
The 3-year-old filly broke two bones in her left foreleg and is being treated in Motion's Laurel Park barn. Motion is hopeful of saving the filly, a daughter of Rollicking, and pursuing a career for her as a broodmare.
"I've had better days," said Motion, 30, the former foreman for the late Hall of Fame trainer Bernie Bond, who handled Rollicking back in his racing days of 1969-71. "This game will do that to you."
NOTE: Apprentice jockey Roniel Gerardo was issued a seven-day suspension for careless riding by the stewards yesterday for his job on Mademoiselle Raja in Friday's last race at Laurel Park.