Two horses with Maryland connections racing toward the Triple Crown series -- one Maryland-bred, the other Maryland-trained -- took major strides yesterday, winning stakes events in New York and Arkansas.
Maryland-bred Smoke Glacken, a son of Two Punch, won the $50,000 Mountain Valley Stakes, a six-furlong sprint at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. And Concerto, trained by Maryland-based John J. Tammaro III, captured the $50,000 Whirlaway Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile test at Aqueduct.
Smoke Glacken won in the mud, Concerto in the snow.
Smoke Glacken, the 1-9 favorite in a field of five, exploded from the starting gate and then pulled away from My Dad Doc, the early challenger, on the turn. Down the homestretch, three latecomers challenged, but Smoke Glacken's jockey, Craig Perret, spotted them with a glance over his shoulder, smacked Smoke Glacken twice, and the gray colt squirted away.
He won by 3 1/2 lengths over Prosong. The question all along has been how far he wants to run.
"Who knows if he's going to go two turns?" said Robert Levy, one of his owners. "We'll find out in the Southwest."
The one-mile Southwest Stakes on March 1 at Oaklawn Park is next on Smoke Glacken's schedule. A win there will land him in the 1 1/16-mile Louisiana Derby on March 16 at the Fair Grounds.
In New York, even-money favorite Concerto waltzed to victory in the Whirlaway. He won by three-quarters of a length over Erv and Regal Chant, who finished in a dead heat, but he did it effortlessly with a ride from the No. 1 post by Carlos H. Marquez Jr.
"We really didn't want him on the lead, but with the inside post we had to have him right up there," Tammaro said. "He's improving more and more each time he runs."
Tammaro said he would confer with Concerto's owner, George Steinbrenner, about where to race next. Steinbrenner watched the race on TV from Tampa.
In a Derby prep at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., Silver Charm, racing for the first time in five months, took the lead midway through the stretch and won the $106,400 San Vicente Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths over Free House.
Ridden by Chris McCarron and carrying 120 pounds, Silver Charm covered seven furlongs in 1 minute, 21 seconds, equaling the stakes record set by Ancient Title in 1973.
Pub Date: 2/09/97