The most electric performance so far at the young Laurel Park fall meet belongs to Appealing Skier, the 2-year-old colt that came close last weekend to equaling a track record for 7 1/2 furlongs when he won the Laurel Futurity by six lengths.
Now it appears the Florida-bred, New Jersey-based colt -- who might be Triple Crown-bound -- could have a Maryland connection in his future.
After the Futurity, trainer Ben Perkins Sr. said he has been talking to Kentucky, Florida and Maryland farms about forming a racing and breeding partnership to campaign the colt and later stand him at stud.
His preference, Perkins said, is Maryland.
Turns out that Richard Golden, who's more and more becoming the key person in local breeding circles, is the man Perkins has been talking to in Maryland. Golden owns Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City along with Allaire du Pont, Tom Bowman and Bob Levy and is responsible for syndicating such horses as Polish Numbers, Private Terms, Opening Verse and Two Punch. Perkins has trained for Golden and duPont.
Golden talked to Perkins the morning of the Futurity. "I told him I'd watch the race and be in touch," Golden said. "Right now, the only thing I can say is that we have a definite interest in the horse but that no decisions have been made."
A deal might not be brokered until Appealing Skier has proven himself in graded New York stakes company.
That could come Oct. 29 in the Grade II Cowdin Stakes at Belmont Park -- the day after the Breeders' Cup.
There's a chance Appealing Skier might take on Maria's Mon and fTC Hennessy in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, but Perkins said the goal is not the Juvenile, but "to have a nice horse in the spring."
L No Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner has won the Kentucky Derby.
Timber Country is the only Juvenile winner to have won a Triple Crown race -- the 1995 Preakness.
New from South Africa
Golden has gone to many lengths to acquire stallions for Northview, but buying one from South Africa is a first.
The newest arrival is Rakeen, an 8-year-old son of Northern Dancer out of the champion mare, Glorious Song, who has arrived in Cecil County via Johannesburg.
Rakeen is a half-brother to ace sire Rahy, whose offspring include the "iron filly," Serena's Song.
Rakeen took a circuitous route to Maryland. He was foaled in Canada, sold to an Arab shiek, raced in England and wound up in South Africa, where he won two graded stakes and has sired three crops of foals.
"The man who owned him wanted to send him to the U.S., but had never heard of Maryland," Golden said. "He didn't even know we raised horses here. After we sent him our materials -- and he learned that indeed this was the home of Northern Dancer -- he was impressed."
Northview owns 75 percent interest in the horse.
Concern in Breeders' Cup
After expressing initial disappointment in Concern's third-place finish in the Meadowlands Cup and saying he'll skip the Breeders' Cup Classic, trainer Dick Small apparently has re-thought the situation and has told the Daily Racing Form that the horse will run in the Oct. 28 race.
Small was upset over Mike Smith's ride on Concern in the Meadowlands race. The horse was hustled to race near the pace instead of lagging behind early and staging his customary late run.
There's no word yet if Smith keeps the mount.
Jerry Bailey rode the Bob Meyerhoff-owned colt last year when he won the $3 million race. But Bailey rides Cigar this year.
Pimlico barn on hold
For months horsemen stabled at Pimlico have seen dirt pushed from side to side on the site being prepared for the construction of two new barns at Pimlico.
Now, there's some question if the barns will ever be built.
Track operator Joe De Francis says they will, but at the same time, a plan is being studied to build several new barns at Laurel Park.
Increasingly, trainers prefer to be stabled at Laurel since it is easier to hire help there and because the racing strip is usually in better condition.
De Francis said co-owner Marty Jacobs and GM John Mooney are analyzing the situation of the two stabling areas.
"We still want to go forward with a plan to tear down the old barns at Pimlico," De Francis said.
But where and how those stalls will be replaced is under review.
Thalheimer at hearing
The state's horse racing leaders are still reeling from the recently released Maryland Chamber of Commerce study that said the industry is dying and should not be protected if casino gaming is allowed in the state.
Industry leaders will be out in full force tomorrow to convince the Tydings Commission otherwise. The panel, chaired by former Sen. Joseph Tydings and appointed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening to study the pros and cons of approving casino gambling in the state, holds its final hearing in Baltimore at 4 p.m. in the auditorium of the University of Maryland Medical School at the corner of Redwood and Pine streets.
Among those testifying on behalf of the industry are Richard Thalheimer, a professor at the University of Louisville who is considered the leading specialist on the adverse effect that casino gaming has on horse racing.
Also set to testify are horse owners and breeders from around the country who have seen racing decline when it operates in direct competition with casinos.