03/25/2014 10:50AM

Dick Jerardi: Four-way fight for Laurel's leading trainer

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Behemoth (4), winner of last month's John B. Campbell Hanidcap, is among 18 winners Claudio Gonzalez has saddled in his bid to finish atop the Laurel Park winter meet trainer standings.

The Laurel Park training race appears as if it may go down to the final day of the meet on Saturday.

Heading into the last week, three trainers – Claudio Gonzalez, Juan Vasquez, and Kieron Magee – had 18 winners each. Hugh McMahon had 17.

Gonzalez, especially, has been hot, going 8 for 25 in March.

“The horses are doing good and I am putting them in the right spots,” said Gonzalez, who is spending the winter in Maryland for the second consecutive year. “I am going to try to enter as many runners as I can to win the title.”

Magee was definitely not expecting this. His 18th win of the meet was with Peaceadaaction, who earned his 13th career victory. Magee’s barn went 3 for 7 last week.

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“If you would have told me January 1 I would be in this situation, I would have told you ‘you were smoking your socks’,” Magee said. “I am thrilled, but it is going to be hard for me to keep pace with these guys next week. I just don’t have the horses. Things have been really consistent in the barn since the fall of 2012 and I have to thank my wife. She holds things together.”

Charles Town gives grant to CANTER

CANTER Mid-Atlantic’s mission is to rehabilitate and find homes for former race horses. To that end, CANTER will get a $10,000 donation from Charles Town on April 19, Charles Town Classic night. CANTER is already a free race horse sales listing service and race horse rehab provider. The new donation will help CANTER become an emergency care provider for at-risk racehorses it would otherwise have been forced to turn away.

CANTER volunteers regularly visit Mid-Atlantic tracks to seek out trainers and owners of horses who are close to retirement.

“On average, we have seen four former CANTER Mid-Atlantic horses, either Charles Town Races track listings or ex-racehorses that have gone through our Phase 2 training program compete in recognized events throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, including Rolex in Lexington, Kentucky,” said CANTER Mid-Atlantic executive director Allie Conrad. “That would not happen if it wasn’t for the wonderful dedication and support that we have received from Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.’’

CANTER volunteers have been given access to the Charles Town barn area for 15 years. They have transitioned hundreds of horses into productive second careers.

“We greatly value our relationship with CANTER Mid-Atlantic and both appreciate and applaud all of the efforts their team puts forth in helping horses prepare for their new careers after they leave the racetrack,” said Charles Town’s vice president of racing operations, Erich Zimny. “CANTER has put these resources to great use in helping horses in need of new homes and we’re confident that this will continue into the future.”

CANTER will be the presenting sponsor for the $200,000 Sugar Maple, the stakes with the biggest purse on the Charles Town Classic undercard.

“We thought having CANTER Mid-Atlantic again serve as the presenting sponsor for a race on the Charles Town Classic card would allow them to share a stage with some of the top horses in training and call further attention to all the great work they do in transitioning former race horses into a second career,” Zimny added.

Currently, CANTER Mid-Atlantic is managing the care of 24 ex-racehorses that have begun the rehabilitation and retraining process in order to prepare them for a second career.

◗ Patricia Farro won her first training title at Parx in 2013. Nearly 25 percent of the way through the year, she is leading with 19 winners, followed by Phil Aristone and Ramon Preciado (15 each). Jorge Vargas, Jr. still leads the jockey standings with 35 winners.

◗ Trainer Tim Kreiser is putting on a show at Penn National. His barn is 22 for 63 (35 percent). There is a seven-way tie for second in the trainer standings. Each of the runners-up has seven winners, a mere 15 behind Kreiser.