The 12-week Laurel Park winter meeting ended March 24 with Sheldon Russell and Dane Kobiskie winning individual titles. The 48-day stand began at the central Maryland track on Jan. 4.
Russell, the top jockey in the Maryland colony a year ago, paced the rider standings with 54 first place finishes, 21 more than Malcolm Franklin. The 24-year-old had 16 multiple win days during the meet, including nine in the last four weeks of the stand.
“I am very grateful to ride for a lot of the best trainers, that makes my job easier,” said Russell, who won a career-best 195 races in 2011. ”I am riding with much more confidence after winning so much the last 15 months. I am still learning and eventually would like to venture but I am still young and want to continue improving. The goal is to win more than 200 races this year and we are ahead of that pace. I would like to end the year as one of the top 20 riders in the country, based on wins, to get my name out there on the national stage.”
Russell has now won four consecutive riding titles in the state dating back to last year’s winter championship, which includes the Pimlico spring and Laurel fall stands.
Kobiskie won the training title at the winter meet for the second straight year with 34 victories from 81 starts, an impressive 42% winning percentage. The former rider conditioned seven runners who won multiple races during the meet, including Lady June Bug and Lipstick Traces, who visited the winners’ circle three times.
“I am paying attention to all the little things,” said Kobiskie, who won 290 races during 33 months as a jockey before retiring in February 2008. “I wish I did those things when I first start training because I made a lot of mistakes. A lot of guys claim for one win. I am looking to win multiple races with each claim and have had some good luck for more than a year. The numbers are going to have to slow down because they have to. I am hoping to stay above 25 percent at Pimlico.”
Jamie Ness finished in second place with 23 wins.
Kobiskie’s top owner, PTK LLC, led the owner standings, finishing first 29 times, six more than Midwest Thoroughbreds.
Live racing shifts to Pimlico March 30 for the eight-week spring meeting, headlined by the 137th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes (gr. I) on May 19.