Looking Back

This month in mid-atlantic thoroughbred history! For Looking Back archives click here.

Virginia-bred Researcher became the first horse to earn $1 million in Charles Town purses with his second consecutive score in the Charles Town Classic. The 6-year-old gelded son of the late Virginia sire Two Smart expanded his bankroll to $1,377,629, more than $1.15 million earned at his home track. But new owner Zohar Ben-Dov (Kinross Corporation), who purchased Researcher the week before the Classic from the family of late owner Hermen Greenberg, had a career change in mind – that as a steeplechaser. Wrote editor Lucy Acton: “It’s a surprising move. . . But it also stands as one of the most sporting decisions this region has seen in quite some time.”

Researcher lost all six starts over hurdles, but retired to Kinross Farm in Virginia. 

  • The Mid-Atlantic was becoming a test zone for racing’s endurance with the advent of Las Vegas-style table games at Delaware Park, Charles Town, Philadelphia Park and Penn National.

    “The more table games are added, the more of an impact there will be on slots,” said Dr. Richard Thalheimer, president of Thalheimer Research Associates and a former professor of equine business at the University of Louisville. His statistical studies showed that pari-mutuel wagering declined when additional forms of gambling were introduced at tracks.

  • Lucy Goelet’s first racehorse, Twill Do, scored a 5-length victory in the Maryland Hunt Cup with rider James Stierhoff getting his first career win. Stierhoff was subbing for trainer Billy Meister, the three-time Hunt Cup-winner who was on crutches after breaking his pelvis a week earlier at the Grand National.

  • Robert Gerczak and Kaygar Stable’s Baltimore Bob, a 5-year-old son of Malibu Moon with five stakes placings to his credit, broke through with his first stakes victory in Pimlico’s Henry S. Clark. He was trained by J.B. Secor, who took over the stable of Carlos Garcia when the latter retired in January. Secor also sent out former Garcia trainee Jim’s Prospect to win the Wide Country. “I hadn’t won two stakes in 20 years,” said Secor, “and now I win two stakes in two months. I like it much better this way.”

  • Veteran Banjo Picker was retired at age 10 after 52 starts, 16 wins, eight seconds, seven thirds, and earnings of $648,865. Owned by Danny Limongelli and trained by Steve Krebs, who claimed the gelded son of Swear by Dixie for $15,000 in August 2004, the Pennsylvania-bred won six stakes, including the Gravesend Handicap-G3, and amassed state-bred bonuses that helped boost his breeder Betsy Houghton to the top of the Pennsylvania Breeding Fund charts.

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