08/23/2006 11:00PM

Timonium offers taste of Maryland's past


Fifty years ago, Thoroughbred racing on tracks less than one mile in circumference was commonplace in Maryland, with horsemen traveling a circuit that included Cumberland, Hagerstown, and Marlboro.

Timonium, which held its inaugural meet in September 1887, is the last surviving bullring in Maryland. The five-furlong track opens an eight-day meet Saturday in conjunction with the Maryland State Fair. First post time is 1:10 p.m. daily through Labor Day. There is no live racing on Aug. 28 or 29.

The $6 admission to the fair entitles patrons to attend the races at no additional charge.

Unlike the major Maryland meets at Laurel Park and Pimlico, Timonium cards mainly races for claimers and low-level allowance runners. There will be two stakes for Maryland-breds, however, over Labor Day weekend.

The $50,000 Alma North for fillies and mares will be contested on Saturday, Sept. 2, followed by the $50,000 Taking Risk Stakes on Labor Day. Both will be run at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Saturday's opening-day card consists of 11 races. The nominal feature is race 10, a four-furlong sprint for first-level allowance runners that carries a $25,000 purse.

Scott Lake, the leading trainer at last year's meet, has a potent entry in the seven-horse field with Uncoil and Saint Jules. Uncoil comes off a dominant win going 4 1/2 furlongs at Charles Town three weeks ago. Saint Jules has been flashing high speed and stopping in six-furlong claiming races in New York.

Travis Dunkelberger, who led all jockeys with 15 wins at last year's meet and has won five riding titles at Timonium since 1997, is named on both parts of Lake's entry. Both horses are cross-entered Saturday at Charles Town.

In addition to Lake, high-profile Maryland trainers Dale Capuano, Howard Wolfendale, King Leatherbury, Ferris Allen, Rodney Jenkins, and Hamilton Smith are expected to run horses during the meet.

Delaware: Sequoia King tries again

Sequoia King has yet to return much on the $525,000 investment owner Jess Jackson made at last year's Fasig-Tipton yearling sale at Saratoga. After easily winning his maiden at Keeneland this past April, Sequoia King has failed to win in three stakes starts, including twice as the favorite.

Despite his shortcomings, Sequoia King figures to be favored when he faces six other largely unproven 2-year-olds in Saturday's $54,000 Par Four Stakes at Delaware Park.

Sequoia King had a legitimate excuse for his sixth-place finish as the 2-1 favorite in the Grade 3 Kentucky Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs. He tried to wheel at the start, dropped back to 12th and last, then passed five horses in the stretch.

Sent to Southern California for the Willard Proctor, where he was the 3-5 favorite, Sequoia King dueled for the lead for a half-mile, then faded to sixth and last.

In his most recent start, the Prairie Gold Juvenile on July 4, Sequoia King improved enough to finish a close second to Bella Shambrock, a colt who came back to romp by eight lengths in the $60,000 Tyro at Monmouth Park on July 29.

Gonetoground, the field's only two-time winner, and Eternal Star, who owns the best Beyer Speed Figure, an 84 for his 5 1/2-length win over maidens three weeks ago, are Sequoia King's chief competition in the six-furlong Par Four.

Gonetoground beat maidens and first-level allowance runners locally before apparently disliking the sloppy track he encountered in the $126,000 Colin at Woodbine.

Eternal Star improved 34 points on the Beyer scale last time out, when he came from fourth to crush nine rivals. He will again meet up with Cash Rich, a colt who beat him by four lengths last month.