Apprentice rider Brandon Whitacre scored his first career victory with his second career mount when he piloted Pyrite Gun ($7.80) to a ground saving victory in the fourth race at Laurel Park.
"It is the best feeling in the world," said Whitacre, the grandson of former jock Jesse Davidson. "Horse racing is in my blood but this is actually only my second year on horses. The first time on a Thoroughbred I was thrown off and stepped on. I spent a year at Frank Smith's farm in South Carolina and then came up here to learn how to gallop. I went back to the farm for some gate work and this is my first day riding in the afternoon."
After finishing last on Hampden in the opener, Whitacre looked confident on Pyrite Gun, a solid second choice in a 10-filly field. The Lisa Jimenez trainee sped to a clear early lead, setting the pace along the rail. Abel Castellano and Solitarius pressured the tandem on the turn but Whitacre took control through the stretch winning by 2 1/2 lengths, finishing the 5 ½ furlong race in 1:07.81.
"We had plans to make the lead and it set up just like we thought," added the 20-year old. "There is nothing else like crossing the finish line first. It was exhilarating"
On his way back to the jocks room, the Hammond High School graduate was greeted with the traditional shaving cream bath to honor a rider's first win.
"I knew it was coming and took it like a man," said Whitacre. "You have to have a good sense of humor because you spend so much of the day in the jocks room."
Whitacre's next mount will be in Friday's finale on a 30-1 shot for trainer Donald Barr.