Jackson Bryer teaches English, not Pari-mutuel 101, at the University of Maryland in College Park. However, the tenured professor quickly is becoming a horse racing expert.
Mary's Buckaroo, the thoroughbred gelding that Bryer owns in partnership with Carroll County trainer Joanne Hughes, is developing into one of the state's most consistent older horses and is racing his way into contention for top prize in the Maryland Million Classic, to be run Oct. 14.
Yesterday, at Laurel Park's fall opening, the horse tuned up for the $200,000 stakes by circling the field and rallying to a half-length victory over long shot Fireside Brass in the $37,125 Chase Me Stakes.
Maryland Million Sprint nominee Crumpton finished third.
Hughes took the sensible route with Mary's Buckaroo during this past summer's stifling heat and gave the horse a lengthy rest. Now, she and Bryer are reaping the rewards.
"He's come back a different horse," said jockey Mario Verge.
Bryer left the winner's circle clutching a handful of winning tickets and said a couple of his colleagues from Maryland's department of English had joined him at the track.
"They're enjoying racing vicariously through this horse," said Bryer, who previously owned a winning filly, Mary's Revenge, in partnership with Hughes.
Mary's Buckaroo is not the first stakes winner trained by Hughes. She also won the Northern Dancer Stakes in 1989 with the horse's half-brother, Turn to Teddy.
Hughes is a Baltimore native who learned her training skills under Hall of Fame steeplechase horseman Mike Smithwick and then served as an assistant to the late Bernie Bond for 12 years.
In addition to training three horses at the Bowie Training Center, Hughes also manages Frank Shamer's Liberty Run Farm in Winfield.
NOTES: Preliminary entries for the Maryland Million will be taken tomorrow at Laurel. Post positions will be drawn next Thursday. . . . Grade II winner Who Wouldn't finished last in his racing return in Laurel's sixth race yesterday, but "needed the race," said his trainer, Donald Barr. He is on schedule to run back in the Maryland Million Sprint. Yesterday's winner of that race, Goldminer's Dream, is not eligible for the Maryland Million and will probably run next in a $50,000 sprint at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pa. . . . Preakness runner-up Oliver's Twist, one of the horses set to face Mary's Buckaroo in the Maryland Million Classic, preps for the race at Laurel on Friday in the $33,600 allowance feature.