It may not have been the Kentucky Derby, but Pimlico had a pretty good feature race of its own yesterday.
In a vigorous stretch duel, Poolman outlasted favored Mister Business by a neck on a muddy track and captured the $75,000 Woodlawn Stakes in their second meeting.
Winning jockey Joe Rocco and Rick Wilson, who rode Mister Business, came down the lane in tandem, driving, whipping and hand riding.
The result was almost identical to their first clash as maidens at Delaware Park last October when Poolman also prevailed with Rocco aboard.
The field was reduced to five when the 1 1/16-mile test was shifted off the turf course after rains struck the track during the early portion of the card. The scratches included Essential and Smart Warning, who figured to be heavily backed in the betting.
And matters didn't look very promising for second-choice Poolman after a tardy break from the gate.
"He got left a little," Rocco said. "But when I asked him he just literally drug me into contention. He wore the other horse down and had something left."
By the six-furlong point, Poolman was challenging pacesetting Mister Business and East of Easy, who weakened to finish third.
"I broke this horse's maiden and won a stake on him recently. I was really hoping I would ride him," Rocco said. "It was just a question if he would run."
Trainer Steve Klesaris was waiting until the last minute to determine Poolman's status for the race. If it transferred to the main track, he would benefit.
"He's bred for water and mud is something he'll always be able to handle," Klesaris said. "With the weather everything was up in the air as to whether we were going to run or not."
Klesaris indicated the colt may return for the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes on Preakness Day.
Skip Away a heavyweight
Certain favorite Skip Away has been assigned top weight of 128 pounds, his highest impost ever, for the $750,000 Pimlico Special on Saturday and will spot at least 15 pounds to all his rivals.
The Eclipse Award winner for older horses last year, he will face eight if all start with Oaklawn Handicap winner Precocity set to carry 115.
Of the two local entries, Hot Brush, trained by Dick Small, received a 113-pound impost and Testing, from the Bill Boniface stable, will have 111 but is likely to bypass the race.
Other weights: Wagon Limit, 114; Connecting Terms, 112; Draw, 111; Accelerator, 110, and Tam's Armada, 107.
Jockey Gilberto Delgado has been suspended five days beginning today for careless riding in the ninth race Friday. Attendance at the three Maryland tracks (Pimlico, Laurel and Rosecroft) was 19,609 and total handle of $7,470,000 exceeded last year's figure by nearly $100,000.
Pub Date: 5/03/98