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Laurel Park trainer Hamilton Smith earns 2,000th career victory

Sweet Home Dixie swept past her rivals on the far turn and powered through the stretch to run her win streak to five races and give trainer Hamilton Smith his 2,000th career victory Friday at Laurel Park.

Bred an owned by Smith’s older brother and ridden by Maryland’s 2019 champion jockey Trevor McCarthy, Sweet Home Dixie ($4.60) ran 1 mile in 1:40.44 over a fast main track to capture the starter allowance for fillies and mares 4 and up by five lengths.

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Sweet Home Dixie was bred in South Carolina, where Franklin ‘Goree’ Smith owns and operates the Elloree Training Center. Her sire is Done Talking, the 2012 Illinois Derby (G2) winner that provided Hamilton Smith with his lone trip to the Kentucky Derby (G1).

“It’s a great thing to happen, I can tell you that,” Smith said. “When I got started I never thought I’d be around to win 2,000 races. I’m really glad to win it with a South Carolina-bred, and my brother’s horse. I had a lot of help along way. I’m proud of it, I really am.

“Everything worked out great. It’s pretty unique, I have to admit,” he added. “We got started years ago down there, my brother and I, and we were getting on yearlings when we were 11 and 12 years old and we’ve been working together ever since. It’s been a pleasure.”

The 74-year-old Smith was one of seven siblings growing up in Lone Star, S.C., helping tend to nearly 1,800 acres of soybeans, corn and livestock that comprised his father Dudley’s farm. He got an early introduction to racing from older brothers, John Edward, a jockey in the 1940s and 1950s who later turned to training, and Frank, nicknamed ‘Goree’ by their father.

A horse identifier at Penn National before hanging up his shingle, Smith registered his first winner April 22, 1977 at Suffolk Downs and earned his first stakes triumph with John’s Roll in the 1980 Timonium Futurity.

Starting in 1999, when he set career highs with 101 wins and $2.07 million in purse earnings, Smith has gone on to win or share five meet training titles at Laurel Park, the most recent coming at the 2016 summer stand. He has reached $1 million in seasonal earnings for 22 consecutive years, starting in 1998.

Smith has earned nearly $41 million in career purses from more than 13,000 starters, all without an assistant. His son, Jason, has essentially been filling that role in recent years.

College water polo: Mount St. Mary’s Director of Athletics Lynne Robinson announced the addition of the Mount’s 23rd and 24th sports as men’s and women’s water polo will become varsity sports beginning in the 2020-21 school year.

Women’s college lacrosse: Mount St. Mary’s named Beanie Colson, Marie Dickson, Kate Kinsella, and Carly Miller as team captains for the 2020 season.

Johns Hopkins: Neil Grauer and Irv and Cathy Litofsky have been selected as the recipients of the Blue Jays athletic department’s Distinguished Service Award. They will be honored at the University’s 2020 Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which is scheduled for March 28.

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