01/13/2016 2:04PM

Mid-Atlantic: Lynch transitions stable to Maryland

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Trainer Cathal Lynch (second from left) is in the process of transitioning his stable from Pennsylvania to Maryland.

Cathal Lynch is in the process of relocating his stable and family from Pennsylvania to Maryland. On Saturday, he will introduce himself to his new neighbors by sending out the solid favorite, Never Gone South, in the $75,000 Frank Whiteley Jr., a seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds at Laurel Park.

Lynch, a 40-year-old native of Derry in Northern Ireland, has been based at Parx Racing the past dozen years but is now stabled at Laurel Park. He recently sold his home near Parx.

“I’ve been threatening to do it for a while, and we finally made the move,” Lynch said. “I brought 18 horses down, and we’ll have another 18 here in two weeks. We have sent some others to the farm for now. My owners have been very supportive.”

Lynch’s transition south comes a little more than a year after Sal Sinatra left his position as director of racing at Parx to become the general manager of the Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Laurel and Pimlico Race Course.

“Sal has been nothing but helpful to us,” Lynch said. “He knows we’ve made a big commitment to come here.”

Lynch said he thinks Maryland racing is headed “in the right direction.” In the past year, The Stronach Group, which owns the two tracks, has made major capital improvements to the Laurel grandstand and backstretch.

Prior to 2015, Laurel and Pimlico did not hold a summer meet. The tracks now form a practically year-round circuit. Handle at the Maryland Jockey Club was up 20 percent in 2015.

Summer racing allows Laurel to make better use of its turf course, which was completely redone in 2005. The course is 142 feet wide and can be used in a number of different configurations, much like the surface at Gulfstream Park, which also is owned by The Stronach Group.

“Quite a few of my horses like turf, and the course here at Laurel is second to none,” Lynch said.

While purses at Parx are subsidized by its large, successful casino, Maryland racing receives a percentage of gaming revenue generated in the state but does not operate its own casino.

“They are more focused on the racing part of it than the casino part,” Lynch said of the Maryland Jockey Club.

Never Gone South, whom Lynch will run in the Whiteley, is 2 for 4. He started out with a Parx maiden win in June and then won the Strike Your Colors Stakes at Delaware Park in August. He has been second, beaten three-quarters of a length, in each of his last two races. The horses who beat him have come back to run well.

Awesome Speed, whom he was second to in the James F. Lewis III, returned to win the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream Park. Vorticity, who defeated Never Gone South in the Marylander, has since been second in the Grade 3 Jerome at Aqueduct.

“Take those two out of here, and he should be tough,” Lynch said.