Trainer Charles Hadry chose to chat in the racing office rather than watch yesterday's Goss L. Stryker Stakes from his box seat.
But the veteran trainer was still all smiles after his 3-year-old, Private Faith, prevailed in the seven-furlong stakes race for Maryland-breds. Hadry, also the horse's owner, earned the $36,000 winner's share. Favored Centurian was second, a head behind. Shimmering Prince was third.
It was the second win a row and third in 12 career starts for Private Faith, a son of Private Terms, the horse that took Hadry to the Kentucky Derby in 1988, and that probably made Hadry less than excited about yesterday's stakes race.
"Nothing compares to it," Hadry said of the Derby.
It appears that no Maryland 3-year-olds will have what it takes to get to Kentucky this year, including Private Faith. But that doesn't mean that Private Faith didn't once generate the spark.
"He acted like he wanted to do it," said Hadry. "We expected more of him than what we got in the first four or five races. He always trained better than he ran. You can never tell what a horse is going to do until they show you. That's why I never say anything about how good a horse is going to be. Too many things can change."
Things have changed for Private Faith since apprentice jockey Nik Goodwin earned the mount. He guided the horse to a three-length allowance race victory three weeks ago, but Private Faith was sent to post at 7-1 yesterday.
No matter. Private Faith sat off the pace set by Sam's Quest, took a two-length lead midway through the stretch, then held off late-charging Centurion, a horse receiving Lasix for the first time.
"I just wanted to lay off the pace and make a move," Goodwin said.
Private Faith paid $16 and keyed a $49.40 exacta.
The winning time was 1 minute, 24 4/5 seconds, the same time registered in a maiden race earlier in the card. For Goodwin, it was the second straight weekend with a stakes victory. He won the Conniver Stakes aboard Queen Letizia last Saturday for trainer King T. Leatherbury.
Goodwin came to Maryland three months ago after a brief stint in DTC California, where he found a limited market for apprentices. Former Maryland trainer Joe Devereux, now at Santa Anita, advised the 19-year-old to try the Maryland circuit.
"Things are starting to pick up," Goodwin said. "California is just a tough place for an apprentice. There's more of a tradition for apprentices at Maryland."