Mario Pino studied the Daily Racing Form, thought he had "a couple of shots" yesterday to win races, then dominated the Pimlico card with five winners from seven mounts.
"My horses ran monstrous," said the jockey, 33, whose understated but effective style has stood him well during a 16-year career in Maryland.
Included in the Pino bonanza were a track record for 5 1/2 furlongs with Bob Meyerhoff's aged sprinter, Higher Strata; a victory in the featured Humphrey Finney Stakes aboard 4-5 favorite War Hostage; a pair of wins for Dick Delp, trainer of one of Pino's regular outfits; and a nice score in a $25,000 maiden claimer for Barbara Anderson and John Guest on Whata Golddigger, a filly Anderson grooms herself at Laurel Park.
It took 19 years for a horse to break Luck Penny's Pimlico record of 1 minute, 4 1/5 seconds for 5 1/2 furlongs when Season's Flair accomplished the feat Tuesday. The 2-year-old filly ran the distance in 1:03 3/5.
The record stood only four days.
Higher Strata clipped another 1 1/5 seconds off that mark yesterday when he swept past Giveityourbestshot in the third race and defeated the heavily favored, Eddie Gaudet-trained Gallant Impression by nearly five lengths. The horse's running time was 1:02 2/5.
But Gaudet benefited from Pino's expertise a few races later when the jockey guided Gaudet's tall, lanky homebred, War Hostage, to an two-length victory over Royal Silver in the $60,000 Humphrey Finney Stakes.
Leading rider Mark Johnston had had a chance to ride either of the 1-2 Finney finishers, but instead ventured to Monmouth Park to try to win a graded stakes with Ameri Valay.
The King Leatherbury-trained runner, who was sent off the favorite, failed to make the lead in the Salvator Mile, finished sixth in the nine-horse field and was 12 lengths behind winner Schosberg.
Another Maryland-bred, Tough Broad, also was favored in the companion stakes, the Little Silver, but was beaten by a nose by the Gene Weymouth-trained Copper Horizon.
Johnston returns to local action today when he picks up the mount on the John Salzman Jr.-trained Double Sawbuck in the $30,000-added Office Queen Stakes.
XTC * NOTES: Trainer Ron Cartwright thought about scratching Oliver Goldsmith's Say Capp from yesterday's $40,000 co-feature, a 1 1/16th-mile handicap, that would have been a spot for Ameri Valay had he stayed at Pimlico. The race was loaded with talent, including stakes winners Richie the Coach, Brass Scale and Jest Punching. But Goldsmith wanted the horse to run, and Say Capp, winner of the Humphrey Finney Stakes at Pimlico last year when it was run on the main track, upset the tough field, finishing a head of another long shot, Bob Beall's Fireside Brass. . . . C C Prospector, a 3-year-old gelding, was humanely destroyed after he fractured his left hind leg racing on the lead in the sixth race at 1 mile on the grass. No other injuries occurred in the race.