(from Laurel Park report)
One & Won Stable’s Heart Throbbin’ was claimed for $40,000 in September by trainer King Leatherbury. Monday, he paid back his connections in full on the opening day of the 75-day winter meeting when he won the $63,200 Dancing Count Stakes for newly minted three-year-olds at muddy Laurel Park.
Splattered with mud but his face covered with a smile, jockey Ryan Fogelsonger met Leatherbury back at the winners’ circle after completing the 5 1/2-furlong distance in 1:06.21. It was victory number 6,175 for the legendary 73-year-old conditioner, third on the all-time list.
After tracking the pacesetters through the turn, Heart Throbbin’ took the lead at the top of the lane, then held off 3-2 favorite Place Your Bet and Jeremy Rose as they raced to the finish line to win by a half-length. Crafty Bear, the narrow second choice in the field of six, rallied for third.
“There was a lot of speed in here, and the race set up perfectly for us,” Leatherbury said.
Crafty Bear was the final horse to be entered to race by trainer Bud Delp, who passed away Dec. 29 due to cancer. Delp’s youngest son, Cleve, saddled Crafty Bear. The elder Delp finished up his Hall of Fame career with 3,674 victories-ninth on the all-time list-for $40,999,099. The 74-year-old, who conditioned the great Spectacular Bid, was inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame in 2002.
“I would have loved to win this one for him,” said Mario Pino, who rode the sentimental favorite for the Delp family. “He was a legend. We are going to miss him. I was worried about not having any speed with this horse. I was shoving on him on the backside but couldn’t get him going. We had too much ground to make up at this distance.”
Delp and Leatherbury won 65 training titles between them at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course. During the 1960s and '70s, the two battled Richard Dutrow and John Tammaro for training supremacy in Maryland.
“He was a personal friend of mine. I think he was a super trainer, one of the all time great trainers in Maryland and in the nation as far as that goes. I’m going to miss him a lot,” Leatherbury said. “It was a tremendous shock. I didn’t know he was sick. He was one of my idols when I first started training horses. In order to compete with him, I had to build my stable up.”
Heart Throbbin, who earned $42,000 for the victory, paid $10.60, $4.20, and $2.40 and was the top part of a $40 exacta with Place Your Bet ($3.20, $2.20). Crafty Bear was $2.10 to show.
“It looked like on paper it would set up the way it did,” said Fogelsonger. “This horse ran second in a stake on the slop at Delaware, so he clearly likes the off going. We figured to get the first jump on them, and we did. Rose almost caught us at the end, but we had the advantage.”
Disco Fox, Mister Jon, and Heezafrequentflyer trailed.