Only a classic stretch duel between Jack's Gold and Wind Quest in the $55,300 Honor Guard Stakes yesterday could breathe some life into a rather uneventful Memorial Day racing card at Pimlico.
Jack's Gold roared past Wind Quest late in the stretch and scored a three-quarter-length victory in the featured 10th race over 1 1/8 miles on turf that only had five entries.
Farwell Look, La Reine's Terms and Essential were all scratched, leaving Jack's Gold a 1.30-1 favorite and Wind Quest a 7-1 choice.
Wind Quest looked ready to pull off an upset when the 3-year-old colt led Jack's Gold by a half-length entering the stretch and still was running strong.
But Jack's Gold responded well in the stretch under Carlos Marquez Jr. to not only pass Wind Quest but slowly pull away.
Marquez said of his 3-year-old chestnut colt, "He wanted to bear in slightly through the stretch, but once I corrected him he started to edge away from the other horse [Wind Quest].
"The first part of the race was so slow that he [Jack's Gold] was beginning to get rank from me restraining him. I got him to settle down and asked him to take on the leader at the top of the lane."
It was the first stakes win for Jack's Gold and his third career victory.
It gave Joan Wakefield (one of 14 owners that make up Awaytheygo Stable) reason to believe there may be some racing magic in a new training facility called Tapeta Farm near North East, Md.
"Michael Dickinson [trainer for Jack's Gold] just moved into the farm on April 1 and our horses have been running tremendously since then," said Wakefield. "He designed the surface for our training gallops himself. Jack's Gold always made us think he would run long. We put him on turf and he really improved."
For Wind Quest jockey Mario Pino, it was a tough loss.
"He ran his heart out," said Pino. "This horse relaxed and was in a perfect spot with the lead approaching the top of the stretch. When challenged by Jack's Gold, he would not give up and fought all the way to the wire."
For Marquez, it was his third winning ride of the day.
He had scored aboard Skeedattle Dancer in the fifth race and Petite Laffitte in the seventh.
Marquez entered the afternoon with 12 wins in 118 mounts at the Pimlico meet, which began April 1.
Omar Klinger also rode three winners yesterday, giving him 20 for the meet.
Post times: Thursday-Sunday, 1 p.m.
Out-of-town simulcasts: For results, scratches, call 410-792-7464.
Pub Date: 5/26/98