BALTIMORE, SEPT. 22 -- For years, King Leatherbury has been Maryland's dominant thoroughbred trainer, and his production hasn't faltered despite a new focus: the Maryland Million.

Bettors who attribute Leatherbury's success solely to a large stable and a knack for claiming probably didn't do well over the first five races Saturday, when Leatherbury sent out four horses in the Maryland Million. Two won and two finished second; in the $100,000 State of Maryland Distaff Handicap, his entries of Ms. Rutledge and Edgar's Girl finished 1-2.

"As far as my training schedule is concerned, I point my horses for that particular day," said Leatherbury, who almost is certain to win Pimlico's training title for the eighth time in 10 meetings. "So you start thinking about that early. You know when the race is long in advance, and you know what horses you have that are eligible. And then you make sure your horses are ready, which is easier said than done. But at least we try.

"And {the Million} has changed my breeding schedule. For one, I don't breed to any out-of-state stallions anymore. All my mares, 24 of them, went right to Maryland stallions."

Leatherbury bred Thirty Eight Go Go, winner of the $100,000 USF&G Maryland Lassie. The filly is a member of the first crop by Thirty Eight Paces, a Leatherbury-owned stallion who earned $478,000 while racing in the early 1980s.

In selecting a rider for Thirty Eight Go Go, Leatherbury turned to a man he had used as an apprentice some 15 years before -- Chris McCarron.

"I rode Chris when he had the 10-pound bug," Leatherbury said. "I think the third winner he ever had was with one of my horses. Chris has probably won as many races for me as for any trainer around."

Leatherbury's long-range plans have not compromised his daily operation -- over the 55-day Pimlico meeting interrupted by Timonium, he leads No. 2 trainer Ron Alfano, 33 victories to 23 -- nor his desire to claim.

"We go through our claims every day, as a matter of routine," he said early this afternoon in Pimlico's dining room.

Following the fifth race, track announcer Dick Woolley informed the crowd of 6,869 that Call Of The Wild, who finished third, had been claimed by Leatherbury for $30,000.

Of the 75 horses who have debuted at Pimlico since the meeting resumed Sept. 8, seven have won. Bernie Bond is the only trainer to win with two first-time starters -- the only two he's saddled. Neither of the 2-year-olds, Gala Funnyface nor filly Sham Say, has raced since.

An unlikely outcome in today's fifth race eliminated all those in contention for the double-triple.

Mistress Montague, 13 to 1, found room along the rail, and Allen Stacy drove her past Miss Double Talk (11 to 1). Even with favored Call Of The Wild third, no one correctly selected the top three finishers, resulting in a $74,130.70 carryover to Thursday. The double-triple has been hit once since Sept. 8.