Trainer Michael Pino, whose horse Ten Keys was found Monday after a two-day disappearance in California, has returned to Maryland without the colt.
Pino said he and owner Charles Linhoss of Alexandria were tempted to ship Ten Keys back home, but racing interests dictated otherwise.
"Realistically, the horse belongs out there," Pino said. "There's no grass racing at home right now. We want to give him another race or two, then we'll bring him back."
Pino claimed Ten Keys from breeder Richard Bendit in January, and the $14,500 purchase turned into a $200,000-plus bonanza as Ten Keys became one of Maryland's premier 3-year-old turf horses. Pino denied allegations by Bendit that he claimed Ten Keys on the advice of an exercise rider; Bendit's subsequent attempts to nullify the claim have failed, and he has threatened a lawsuit to regain ownership of Ten Keys.
"I would never claim a horse on hearsay," Pino said. "I did a lot of research on Ten Keys before I claimed him. He was a real good-looking horse. The time before I claimed him, he had had a very rough trip, wide the whole way with a jockey who couldn't control him. I felt like, once I got him, he could really improve.
"I feel sorry for Mr. Bendit, but I don't want him to think I did him wrong. I was gambling $15,000 on a horse who was by no means a sure thing, just like he was gambling that no one would take him."
Ten Keys disappeared from his stall at Bay Meadows in San Mateo, Calif., Saturday evening. Early Monday, a trainer at the Alameda County Fair in nearby Pleasanton saw a horse matching Ten Keys' description and notified authorities. Linhoss, Pino and a California racing official positively identified the horse . . .
After Kent Desormeaux gets off a plane from Louisiana Sunday, he's scheduled to climb aboard a well-propelled filly in the $40,000-added Heavenly Cause Stakes at Laurel.
Clever Power isn't likely to become the champion Maryland-bred 2-year-old filly of 1987, but she is undeniably the fastest of her division. She went a half-mile in 44 4/5 seconds on the way to defeating males in her last start, the six-furlong Morven Stakes at the Meadowlands. Rosecroft Deal Complete
Mark Vogel, a Maryland real estate developer, has completed his purchase of a controlling interest of Rosecroft Raceway (which also includes Delmarva Downs near Ocean City). According to a statement released yesterday at the track, the purchase was concluded Tuesday.
Reportedly, roughly 81 percent (about 2,400 shares) of the outstanding shares were tendered to Vogel, who offered $2,000 per share.
In the statement, Vogel said, "I am excited and pleased to be participating in the future of harness racing in Maryland and in the overall renaissance in Prince George County." Vogel says he intends to keep Rosecroft's current management.