The Laurel Park summer meet training title ended up in a tie between Tim Keefe and Hamilton Smith, but jockey Jevian Toledo easily captured the riding title.
The 24-day meet concluded Aug. 21. Laurel will reopen for live racing Sept. 9 after the seven-day Maryland State Fair meet at Timonium.
Keefe and Smith were tied at 10 entering the final race after Smith won the fifth race with Boosting. Keefe had a chance to take the title outright, but his Path Dependent dead-heated for second in Sunday’s final race.
It was the first training title for Keefe, who began the summer meet with nine wins in 91 starts in 2016 at Laurel and Pimlico Race Course. Last year he finished third at Laurel’s summer and fall meets and fifth at Pimlico. Keefe posted two-win days July 2 and July 23.
“I’m very pleased with it,” said Keefe, 49. “We started out real strong; I wish we would have finished a little stronger than we did but we had a great first part of the meet and we’ve got some really good talent in the barn. I’m very fortunate to have some probably some of the best owners in Maryland for which I train, and back in the barn I’ve got great help there.”
It was the fifth career meet training title for the 71-year-old Smith and first since he finished in a three-way tie with Dale Capuano and Gammy Vazquez at Laurel’s 2007 spring meet. He also led Laurel’s 1998-99 winter, 1999 summer, and 2000 winter-spring meets. Smith had a pair of two-win days during the meet, on July 23 and Aug. 5.
“I had a good meet, I really did,” Smith said. “Some of the better horses ran well and I’m glad to see them use some of the better races for them. I had a good meet overall. I can’t complain. You win the title and it gives you a good feeling. My hat’s off to (Keefe). He had a good meet and so did I.”
Toledo, Maryland’s leading rider in 2015, won 12 races over the final five racing days, including a riding triple Aug. 20, his 22nd birthday, and Aug. 21 to finish with 29 victories, nine more than runner-up Feargal Lynch. Toledo rode at least one winner on 16 of 24 racing days with nine multi-win days.
“I have to thank God and all the owners and trainers for giving me the opportunity,” Toledo said. “My agent (Marty Leonard) did a really good job with me. All the grooms, they do all the work; I just ride the horse. These are hard races. My agent picked the right horses and I got lucky to cross the wire in front.”