Taking Risks, the $20,000 claimer who rose to become a Grade I stakes winner, returned from a six-month layoff yesterday with a convincing victory in a $25,000 allowance race at Pimlico.
Trainer King Leatherbury was "very pleased" after the 5-year-old gelding scored a 1 1/2 -length victory over One Tuff Oop in the six-furlong test, merely a tuneup for the 1994 Maryland-bred champion.
"I didn't really train him as a sprinter for this, but that's the way he ran," said Leatherbury. "I just wanted a nice, easy race for him. This horse has so much ability."
With the meeting's hot jockey, Mark Johnston, aboard, Taking Risks broke alertly and laid just off the pace set by One Tuff Oop, with Joe Rocco in the saddle.
A winner of nearly $600,000, Taking Risks overtook the leader in mid-stretch and finished the distance in a respectable 1 minute, 10 3/5 seconds.
The race was Taking Risks' prep for the $100,000 William Donald Schaefer Handicap on Preakness Day, May 20.
"That's probably where we'll go with him," said Leatherbury. "We were hoping he didn't have to be pushed too hard in this one and he wasn't."
Taking Risks' meteoric rise last year included a 7 3/4 -length win in the Grade I Iselin Handicap at Monmouth on Aug. 21 and a 7 1/2 -length victory in the Maryland Million Classic on Oct. 1.
Taking Risks required 19 races before breaking his maiden, once being disqualified after finishing first.
Jockey OK after spill
Jockey Allen Stacy apparently averted serious injuries in the ninth race after his mount, Burk's Charger, suddenly veered left into the rail and caused an ugly two-horse pileup.
Stacy was taken by ambulance to Sinai Hospital after his horse dented the inside rail and went down, causing Curriamo and jockey Omar Klinger, who were trailing them, to fall right behind them.
Dr. Jerome Collier said Stacy was "looking pretty good" after going to the hospital. "He's bruised badly, but it may be a little while before the X-rays are complete." Preliminary reports on Stacy indicated a broken arm.
"I think my horse went right on top of him," said Klinger, who was on his feet quickly. "There wasn't anything I could do. That horse [Burk's Charger] came right in front of me."
Neither horse was seriously injured.
Klinger bounced back from the nasty spill to ride Mixed Appeal to an impressive score in the $50,000-added Primonetta Stakes.
The 7-year-old mare beat the late-running Up An Eighth by 2 1/4 lengths for her 20th lifetime victory, pushing her earnings above $600,000.
Running fresh after being inactive since Jan. 7, Mixed Appeal led almost every post in the six-furlong race.
But the real story was Klinger, who said he "hurt my shoulder and back in that spill. But I felt I could ride in the stakes. Only my shoulder really hurts.
"I did feel some pain in this race [the Primonetta], especially in my arm and shoulder. But I have a couple of days to recover and sit in the whirlpool."
Try Prospect triumphs
Try Prospect, a 3-year-old colt by Allen's Prospect, blazed around a fast track in 1:04 2/5 for 5 1/2 furlongs in yesterday's fifth race.
The maiden came within one-fifth of a second of the Pimlico record for the distance, a distinction set by Luck Penny 19 years ago.
With Johnston in the saddle and running on Lasix for the first time, Try Prospect had put away five rivals by the 3/16th pole and pulled away to win by 9 3/4 lengths.