Jockey Mario Pino kept Ah Day in a holding pattern until two furlongs from the finish line, tapped him with the whip when he was ready and drew off to a commanding four-length victory in the $100,000 Japan Racing Association Stakes for 3-year-olds Saturday at Laurel Park.Three of the eleven runners entered to run 1 1/16 miles on the turf, including morning line favorite Rock Lobster, scratched when the race was moved to the main track. The race was contested at one mile on a good track with Ah Day going off as the 11-10 choice. Pino brought Ah Day back to the winner's circle to pose for his seventh victory photo of the year, a string that has included six stakes triumphs. They covered the distance in 1:36.58, beating 10-1 shot Forty Crowns. Ah Day paid $4.20, $3, and $2.40 and topped a $33 exacta with Forty Crowns ($8.40, $5.60), who finished more than 10 lengths in front of Two Terms ($3.80). King Leatherbury trains the gelding for owner The Jim Stable, and the victory was his 6,171 during a legendary career. Not to be outshone, this was Pino's 5,803rd trip to the circle."He keeps adding them up, doesn't he?" Leatherbury said of Ah Day, a 2 1/4-length victor in the Sonny Hine in his last start Oct. 7. "I think his last two starts were his best races. As a 3-year-old, I think he's the best one we've had."The Malibu Moon gelding has finished in the money 12 times in 14 starts this year, earning $453,310."King wanted me to get him to relax because he was concerned about the distance," Pino said. "But he relaxed, and it was just a matter of time. Turning for home, he switched over to his right lead and took off. After the race, he pulled up like he had not even run. He is a talented horse." Pino becomes the fourth rider to win an added money score on Ah Day this year, joining Ryan Fogelsonger (Tesio & Horatius), Jonathan Joyce (Deputed Testamony & Red Legend), and Steve Hamilton (Sonny Hine).
Ah Day improved his lifetime record to 8-4-1 in 16 starts with earnings of $506,660. (Chart, Equibase)