Four days after the passing of Harry C. Meyerhoff, Marengo Road honored the memory of his prominent owner with a thoroughly professional triumph in Monday's $75,000 Miracle Wood at Laurel Park.
Meyerhoff, who owned Marengo Road with his son, Tom, campaigned 1979 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner and 1980 Horse of the Year Spectacular Bid, among scores of other stakes winners. A Baltimore native, Meyerhoff passed away at the age of 86 Thursday.
“Racing really lost a hero,” said winning trainer Michael Trombetta in the winner's circle. “He was a wonderful man.”
Marengo Road stamped himself a 3-year-old colt to watch Monday while prevailing over three other Triple Crown nominees in the five-horse field for the Miracle Wood, one of two supporting stakes to the $250,000 General George (G3) on Laurel's Presidents' Day card.
“Now we'll see where it takes us,” said Trombetta after the son of prevailed by three-quarters of a length over Charmed Victory in the mile stakes for 3-year-olds.
The victory was the third in eight starts for Marengo Road, who had previously broken his maiden at a mile on turf last September and captured a mile optional claiming allowance at Laurel Nov.11, earning him a trip to New York for the Nov. 28 Remsen (G2), in which he finished off the board following a wide trip. He prepped for the Miracle Wood with a second-place finish in the seven-furlong Frank Whitely Stakes at Laurel Jan. 16, when he finished more than seven lengths behind a free-running Never Gone South, the 2-5 favorite in the Miracle Wood.
Monday, Marengo Road broke alertly to closely stalk the pace set by Never Gone South past fractions of 24.95 seconds and 49.56 for the first half-mile over a fast track.
“He was the horse to beat. I wasn't going to make it easy for him,” said Marengo Road's jockey Julian Pimentel.
The 6-1 third choice kept the pressure on the favorite along the backstretch and around the far turn before edging away to grab the lead turning for home. Marengo Road responded to the urging of Pimentel to open a clear lead and had enough energy in reserve to withstand the late-stretch bid by 3-1 second choice Charmed Victory. Never Gone South held third, another 1 ½ lengths behind.
“We have run here before and I knew my horse likes the track. We were able to turn the tables this time on Never Gone South because we had a little pace,” Trombetta said. “Last time we couldn't run him down. The extra distance gave us a better chance.”
Marengo Road ran the mile over the fast but deep track in 1:40.13.
Upcoming stakes for 3-year-olds at Laurel are the $75,000 Private Terms (March 12) and the $100,000 Federico Tesio (April 9), the latter a ‘Win & You're In” race for the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico May 21.
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