Delgado, riding for Pino, wins four races at Laurel


A two-day bout with a kidney stone cost Mario Pino a pair of winning mounts and about $4,600 yesterday at Laurel Park, including the ride on the Canadian filly Valiant Jewel in the $54,825 Nellie Morse Stakes.

Pino also missed the long-expected debut of I Smokin, Katharine Merryman's Two Punch filly that has shown plenty of potential in the mornings. In her first start in the first race yesterday, she scored a 6-length win over colts.

Pino's brother-in-law, Albert Delgado, picked up both winning mounts, worth about $4,600 in earnings to the jockey.

Pino's wife, Cristina, said last night her husband has completely recovered and is expected to ride today.

"This happened to Mario once before, about five years ago," she said. "But he's passed the stone and is back to his normal routine."

Delgado also rode two other winners -- Jack Kent Cooke's colt, Copa De Ore, in the third race and the Billy Boniface-trained Eesee's Halo in the seventh.

Delgado rode Boniface's turf filly, Rose Law Firm, at Pimlico in her last start, but stayed at Laurel yesterday when the horse competed in the $250,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland Race Course in Kentucky.

Rose Law Firm, sent off at 50-1 odds and ridden by Craig Perret, trailed the field, but then passed three horses in the stretch and finished fifth, 5 1/2 lengths behind the winning 3-5 favorite, Perfect Arc.

Rose Law Firm earned $7,500 for owner Kennard Warfield Jr. of Glenelg.

Delgado watched the race on TV at Laurel and thought Rose Law Firm had trouble handling the soft turf course. Delgado had few problems, however, negotiating yesterday's strip at Laurel.

In the Nellie Morse, he rallied Valiant Jewel from about seven lengths off the pace set by Calipha and got up for a one-length victory over another late closer, Delaware Handicap winner Night Fax.

Power Play was third, followed by a fading Calipha.

Valiant Jewel joined the Maryland division of Canadian trainer Roger Attfield's stable about six weeks ago.

Purse bonus ends Tuesday

Laurel operator Joe De Francis said that Tuesday will be the last day the track offers a 40 percent purse bonus in open dirt races that draw fields of eight or more runners.

Horsemen requested that the bonus be dropped because it was causing a substantial deficit in the purse account.

De Francis said he had hoped that the bonus could be paid until the end of the year, "but I miscalculated. The fields at Laurel have been larger than we anticipated and we've been giving away as much as $200,000 a day in purses. We couldn't go on at that rate."

The figure exceeds the amount generated for purses from betting receipts, which prompted the deficit.

De Francis said the bonus, which proved to be an incentive to boost field sizes, will be instituted at Pimlico next spring.

Richard Hoffberger, president of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemens Association, said the bonus payments, funded by a previous $2 million purse surplus, lasted for five months, "about as long as we thought they would."

Catherine Lee dies

Catherine Lee, who spent nearly half of her life working as a waitress and at concession stands at Maryland racetracks, died earlier this month at Laurel Regional Hospital at age 77.

Lee was a fixture at the tracks for 35 years and was predeceased by her husband, Paul, who worked as a longtime waiter in the tracks' dining rooms.

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