Mario Pino, the leading rider in the history of Maryland racing, could miss four to six weeks for hernia surgery, which he is scheduled to undergo March 15. The 44-year old ranks 16th on the all-time wins list with 5,666 career victories through March 11. A two-time starting jockey in the Preakness (gr. I), he has been the regular rider of Sweetnorthernsaint, the Laurel Park-based colt on the Triple Crown trail. "I was trying to hold off having it, but I had no choice because my doctor wanted to do it now," said Pino, in his 27th year as a rider. "It doesn't bother me while riding, and the timing isn't the greatest because I am riding some decent horses right now."
Pino has surpassed 200 wins 12 times, and his mounts have earned more than $92 million. He ranked in the top five of the Maryland standings every year from 1979 through 2003 and more than 4,800 of his first place finishes have happened at Pimlico Race Course, Laurel Park, Bowie Race Course, or Timonium. "This set me back a little in the quest for 6,000, but I have been fortunate injury-wise," added Pino, who ranks third in the standings during the current Laurel winter meeting with 33 winners. "I'll come back stronger and keep on going."The Laurel Park jockey colony has three other riders on the sidelines. Dyn Panell (fractured collarbone), Richard Monterrey (separated shoulder), and Walter Cullum (broken neck) are also out with injuries. All are expected back for the Pimlico spring meeting, which begins April 20.