Penn Fifty Three, the lone 3-year-old in a 12-horse field, upset older runners yesterday when he came from off the pace under Edgar Prado and defeated Bartman by a nose in the $57,325 Bald Eagle Handicap at Pimlico Race Course.
The horse's owner, Steve Diubaldo, and trainer, Horace "Charlie" Parker, are retired officers from the Washington, D.C., police force and campaigned another stakes runner, Diamond Donnie, in the late 1980s.
After that horse unexpectedly died of a heart aneurysm during a morning workout several years ago, "it took the wind out of our sails and we disappeared from the game for awhile," Diubaldo said.
But when Parker started training again, he called Diubaldo and they claimed Penn Fifty Three for $18,500 in his first 1995 start from trainer Barclay Tagg.
The horse, who runs best on turf, has earned nearly $100,000 in eight starts.
Yesterday, favored Summer Ensign showed a dislike for the soft turf and finished next-to-last.
The plan is to run Penn Fifty Three next in the Rutgers Handicap at The Meadowlands on Oct. 20 and then possibly try the $100,000 Governor's Cup at Laurel Park eight days later.
NOTES: Former jockey Gregg McCarron won his first race as a trainer yesterday with Dick Jenkins' 5-year-old mare, Choclat Delight. . . . Season's Flair makes her first start for her new trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, today in the $50,000 Valley Stream Stakes at Belmont Park. The 2-year-old was sold by local owner Arnold Heft for $460,000 to Michael Tabor a couple of weeks ago after a win in Pimlico's Debby's Turn Stakes. . . . Mecke, who finished fifth in this year's Preakness, won the $750,000, Grade 1 Isle Of Capri Casino Super Derby in Bossier City, La., by 1 1/2 lengths.