Maryland-based trainer Howard Wolfendale secured the 1,500th win of his career when he saddled Miners Quest to victory in Saturday's sixth race at Pimlico Race Course.
Wolfendale, who saddled Bold Affair to nine stakes victories from 2011 to 2013, was joined in the winner's circle by family and friends after G. Russell Gourley's Miners Quest rallied from last in the seven-horse field to win by a nose under jockey Sheldon Russell.
"Finally. That's it. Finally. It's finally over," said Wolfendale, laughing, after the race.
"It feels great," said Wolfendale's wife, Tammy, an exercise rider and owner. "It was a long time coming to get this particular win."
Wolfendale, who saddled his first winner at Laurel Race Course in 1977 at age 21 and saddled his 1,000th winner at Laurel Park in 2005, was named Outstanding Trainer by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association in 1999 and ranked 37th in wins in 2006.
He saddled Michael's Pride to victory in the 2003 Maryland Million Sprint and won the 2007 Maryland Million Turf Sprint with Happy Surprise.
His daughter Maggie is the paddock reporter for the New York Racing Association.
Wolfendale said his success is due to a "total team effort."
"I have Tammy and this man right here [Gourley] to thank," he said. "Sometimes it can take a while to get a win like this. I just really wanted to do it in Maryland, so I'm happy it happened here."
When asked recently about his favorite memory of training the past 38 years, Wolfendale said: "Bold Affair. I'd like to have another of her. But, for the most part, we've done it with hard-knocking claimers."
And they're off on the turf
The 2015 turf racing season began Saturday at Pimlico, where four of nine races were conducted over the grass course.
In the first of the turf races, Blame Me ($6.20) prevailed over 11 rivals in the third race to graduate from the maiden ranks in his third career race and first on grass for trainer Dane Kobiskie and jockey Cecily Evans.
The Whips International Turf Starter Handicap Series began with a trio of $25,000 mile events in the fifth, seventh and eighth races.
Cluain Meala ($13.60) was the beneficiary of a masterful ride from Forest Boyce (Garrison Forest) to score a late-running victory by a head in the fifth race, beating 11 fillies and mares in 1 minute, 41.96 seconds.
In the seventh race, Barney Rebel ($13.40) stalked the pace into the stretch under Russell before launching a sustained stretch drive to win by a nose in 1:41.48. The Joseph Delozier III-trained gelding prevailed over 13 colts and geldings. In the eighth race, Linda Gaudet-trained Annawon ($30.60), an 8-year-old gelding, beat 10 colts and geldings in 1:41.94 under jockey Jevian Toledo.
The Whips International Turf Starter Handicap Series will continue with the participants running 11/16 miles for $30,000 purses on May 2 and 11/8 miles for $35,000 purses on June 6.
Two turf races are scheduled for today's card, including the featured seventh race, a 5-furlong $45,000 optional claiming allowance. Midwest Thoroughbreds' Thisdanseistaken has been installed as the morning-line favorite in a field of nine fillies and mares on the strength of a 1 1/4 -length victory in an optional claiming event over the Gulfstream Park turf course on March 18. Trainer Jamie Ness has named Trevor McCarthy to ride the 6-year-old mare.
The last race on the nine-race program is scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on turf for 12 maiden fillies and mares.
With an eye toward the 140th Preakness, 19 3-year-olds were nominated for the $100,000 Federico Tesio, a 1 1/16-mile dirt test regarded as Pimlico's local prep for the second jewel of the Triple Crown, to be run May 16.
In all, 151 horses were nominated for six stakes, worth $575,000. The races Saturday will make up the first of three big weekends during the eight-week Preakness meet at Pimlico, which began April 2.
Among the Tesio nominees are Lael Stables' Divining Rod, second by a neck in the Sam F. Davis (Grade 3) on Jan. 31 to start his sophomore season; and Illinois-bred Dom the Bomb, who capped his juvenile season with back-to-back stakes victories at Hawthorne Park.
Also nominated are The Elkstone Group's Because He Can, coming off successive sprint victories at Laurel Park, most recently Feb. 8; stakes-tested Bodhisattva, second in Laurel's 11/8-mile Private Terms on March 21; Maryland-bred Miracle Wood runner-up Combat Diver; and Donworth, an impressive debut winner March 14 at Gulfstream Park for Regis Racing and trainer Graham Motion.
Leading the way with 37 nominations apiece are the $100,000 Dahlia for fillies and mares, and the $100,000 Henry S. Clark for 3-year-olds and up, both scheduled for 1 mile on the turf.
Dahlia nominee A Little Bit Sassy has yet to make her 4-year-old debut after winning two of 10 starts in 2014 including the Edgewood Stakes. Disqualified from first to fourth in the Regret (G3), the Michael Matz trainee was second in the Lake George (G2) at Saratoga and has run in five consecutive graded stakes.
Also nominated are Noble Damsel (G3) winner Annecdote; Irish-bred Group 3-placed Bocaiuva, yet to make her North American debut; My Charmer (G3) runner-up Cushion; multiple graded stakes winners Daring Dancer, fourth in a Keeneland allowance April 9, and Istanford; Grade 1-placed Joint Return, a stakes winner at three tracks; multiple graded stakes-placed Nellie Cashman; and 2014 Korean Derby (G1) and Oaks (G1) winner Queen's Blade.
Nominated to the Clark is Page McKenney, a 5-year-old multiple stakes winning-gelding who opened 2015 with back-to-back stakes victories. He is joined by Lubash, an 8-year-old millionaire recently named New York's champion turf male of 2014, and multiple New York-bred stakes winner Kharafa; and Hamp, runner-up to Hamp in last year's Clark.
A pair of $100,000 sprints are scheduled, the Stormy Blues for 3-year-old fillies going five furlongs on the turf, and the Primonetta for females 3 and up at six furlongs on the main track. Stormy Blues nominee Lady Shipman has won three straight starts and is joined by stakes winners Harlan's Honor, Irish Jasper, Lake Sebago and Spotted Heart.
Lady Sabelia won four of five starts in 2014 and began this year with two victories from three outings including a front-running score in the Barbara Fritchie (G2) Feb. 14 at Laurel. Five of her eight lifetime wins have come at the Primonetta distance, one of them her only try over the Pimlico surface last May. Shadwell Stables' Mamdooha shows five consecutive wins, most recently coming off a year layoff to capture the March 14 Correction at Aqueduct. Who's In Town capped her 3-year-old campaign with back-to-back wins at Laurel, including the seven-furlong Safely Kept.
Eleven horses were nominated to the $75,000 Geisha for females 3 and up going 1 1/16 miles on the main track led by Celtic Katie and Brenda's Way, who ran 1-2 in last year's Geisha, separated by 5 ¼ lengths. Awesome Flower kicked off 2015 with three wins from four starts including a pair of stakes. Eddy Gourmet has won two straight, most recently the Conniver against fellow Maryland-breds March 21 at Laurel.