Disco Rico sets off tremors of own with stakes win


A half-hour after Richter Scale broke the six-furlong track record yesterday at Laurel Park, a stunningly fast sprinter half Richter Scale's age matched the old record.

Disco Rico won the $75,000 Montpelier Stakes for 3-year-olds, completing the six furlongs in 1 minute, 8.06 seconds. That tied Fighting Notion's record that Richter Scale had just beaten in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash.

The New York-based jockey Richard Migliore rode Richter Scale and Disco Rico. Migliore said he believes that Richter Scale, 6, is the best older sprinter in the country.

"And this horse is the best 3-year-old sprinter in the county," he said of Disco Rico, the bettors' second choice at 3-2. "He's that fast. Richter Scale broke, and I just sat still, and he did it on his own.

"This horse I was sitting against. He was actually rating, if you believe a horse can rate in 44 [seconds] and three [furlongs]. Around the turn he had his ears pricked, and he was waiting on company."

He got it down the stretch. Max's Pal, the 4-5 favorite, threatened on his outside. As the horses battled to the wire, Disco Rico drifted out as Migliore whipped him left-handed. Rick Wilson, riding Max's Pal, jerked his horse out of the way.

Wilson filed an objection with the stewards, claiming that Disco Rico had interfered with his horse. But the stewards, who had not launched an inquiry of their own, allowed Disco Rico's victory to stand.

"When Rick's horse got to him, he was never going to let him by," Migliore said of Disco Rico. "He was going to find more."

Valora A. Testerman, who trains 20 horses at Pimlico, manages Disco Rico, a Maryland-bred son of Citidancer and Round It Off. The Montpelier was part of the MATCH series (Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships). After Disco Rico had regained the lead in the 3-year-old sprint division, Testerman said she would keep him on the MATCH trail.

In the day's other stakes at Laurel, My Problem prevailed in the $60,000 Mister Diz Stakes by 3 3/4 lengths over Greenspring Willy. Dale Capuano, who trains My Problem, ranks among the country's top trainers in wins.

"Riding for Mr. Capuano, you just have to hold on," said My Problem's jockey Travis Dunkelberger, who himself ranks among the nation's winningest jockeys.

Bonita Fram in spotlight

The story of the thoroughbred will be told on cable TV in 13 half-hour segments next spring - by telling the story of a year in the life of Harford County's Bonita Farm.

A film crew has been following the Boniface family, stewards of Bonita, since last fall, filming every aspect of their thoroughbred operation: training, breeding, foaling, breaking, family meetings, and all in between.

The crew from Roundabout Productions in Montgomery County is working for the Animal Planet cable channel. The channel is planning to broadcast the series "Thoroughbred" in 13 three-minute episodes in spring 2001.

"They've sort of become part of the family," said Bill Boniface, trainer and headmaster of the Darlington farm. "I think it's going to be a great advertisement for the game, a good chance to expose the industry to a lot of young people."

MHBA chooses 4th Pons

Recently elected president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, Mike Pons becomes the fourth member of his family to serve as an officer of the organization.

The Pons family operates Country Life Farm near Bel Air.

Mike's brother Josh was president from 1995 to 1998. Their uncle John also served as president, and their grandfather Adolphe was vice president.

Mike Pons said nearly all the framework is in place for giant strides in Maryland racing. He said he considers Tim Capps, executive vice president of the MHBA, as "the best at his job in the country," and Maryland Racing Commission president John Franzone as "the strongest proactive racing commission chairman in my lifetime."

He also praised Wayne Wright and Richard Hoffberger of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.

"The missing piece of the puzzle is the Maryland Jockey Club," Pons said. "We've got to get them in sync with us. I think clearly some of our goals must be their goals."

Pons said his goals are increasing the Maryland-Bred Fund, increasing purses, continuing to upgrade the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred magazine, fostering regional cooperation among racing groups, and, finally, building an off-track betting network of which the industry can be proud.

For show

The Colonial Downs meet that opens Labor Day will be the longest in the brief but financially troubled history of the southern Virginia track.

The 32-day meet runs Sept. 4 through Oct. 17, Friday through Tuesday. Post time is 3 p.m. except Oct. 7, Virginia Derby day, when racing starts at 1 p.m.

Rosecroft Raceway will present country singer Eric Heatherly on Saturday. He will perform after the Thomas Sisters and Highway 101 in a concert beginning at 2:30 p.m.

After the show, the harness track will offer a night of racing that features the $50,000 final of the Maryland Sire Stakes for 2-year-old colt pacers.

The Maryland Million has been offering a $5,000 bonus to the owner of winning horses of designated maiden-special-weight races - as long as the winner has been nominated to the Maryland Million program.

The idea is to bring attention to the Maryland Million and to reward owners for participating in the program.

Frank Russo, who auctioned horse and racing memorabilia at Timonium after the Preakness, said the sale was so successful that he plans to conduct a similar auction once or maybe even twice a year. The next one may be in October, he said. Information: call Russo, 410-560-0665.

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