BALTIMORE, OCT. 10 -- Last week, Mario Pino went to the Meadowlands to ride Ten Keys in a stakes race on turf. But his brother Michael, who trains Ten Keys, scratched the colt when the race was moved to dirt.
Today, Ten Keys rallied past Ringing in the stretch to win the $55,900 Japan Racing Association Handicap on the grass at Pimlico. For Mario Pino, there was only one problem -- he was astride Ringing.
With his brother riding first call for trainer Ron Alfano, Michael Pino chose Donald Miller Jr. to ride Ten Keys today. "All Michael really told me was to tap him on the shoulder once out of the gate to keep him from loafing," Miller said.
That was easier said than done, as Wiskers Said bore in leaving the gate, bumping Ten Keys and Prince Rio.
Miller had Ten Keys toward the rear of the seven-horse field through the first turn and into the backstretch, as long shots Bum Bee Ray and Wiskers Said dueled for the lead. Pino, meanwhile, had a tight hold on Ringing, running comfortably in third.
"I wanted to wait as long as I could before asking him," Pino said. "I wanted to be sure he had something left later on. And when I asked him, he took off."
As the two front-runners burned out from fractions of 47 3/5 seconds and 1:11 3/5, Ringing took the lead rounding the far turn. But as he did, Ten Keys accelerated on the outside, joined Ringing as he went three-wide around the turn, and gradually pulled away to win by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:42 3/5. Ringing easily held second in the 1 1/16th mile race, 1 1/2 lengths before Great Lightning.
"Ringing ran a lot gamer than I thought he would," Miller said. "He really showed me something. But all in all, it was kind of an uneventful race; I just kinda sat there and went around them at the end."
Ten Keys, who under Pino won the Timely Writer Handicap at Suffolk Downs in his previous start, was second choice at 2 to 1 behind Green Book. The two were assigned a race-high 116 pounds, but Green Book, one of the state's prominent 3-year-olds, never put forth a serious bid under Vince Bracciale Jr. and finished fifth.
Ten Keys' victory further supports Michael Pino for making one of the best claims in Maryland this year. On Jan. 20, Pino claimed the Sir Ivor Again colt off Bill Boniface for $14,500. Ten Keys has won four stakes and $148,559 for new owner Charles Linhoss of Alexandria.
The Miller-Pino duo provided a more surprising outcome in today's fifth race. Runaway In Sight, a 2-year-old Wardlaw filly making her first start, burst out of the gate and never was headed, winning by 4 1/2 lengths and paying $20.80.
Runaway In Sight entered the race with one published workout: five furlongs at Bowie Race Course in a dismal 1:04.
Two horses from the Soviet Union and one from Poland are expected to arrive Sunday afternoon at Dulles Airport. The horses and their handlers are to travel to Laurel Race Course to set up camp for the Oct. 31 Washington, D.C. International.
One of the two as-yet undisclosed Soviet horses will run in the International. A Soviet horse last ran in the International in 1966.