Now that Miss Josh has overcome hoof problems, her feet are planted firmly on the turf. The once-wayward filly has found guidance on the grass, which has brought her to today's $100,000 Chrysanthemum Handicap at Laurel as the favorite.
Miss Josh had won $30,000 before this year, when trainer Barclay Tagg put her on the grass and witnessed a startling transformation. Tagg said he likes to try his horses on the turf at least once, and Miss Josh was a perfect candidate with her troubled feet and proven pedigree; Highland Springs, who became a prominent turf runner for Tagg, is her half-brother.
Since June, Miss Josh has won three stakes races on turf and had a fourth in her midst before Foresta edged her at the last instant in the All Along Stakes. The performance qualified Miss Josh as Maryland's best turf-oriented filly.
Miss Josh faces neither Europeans nor graded stakes winners in the Chrysanthemum, but potential complications exist. She drew post 12 in a 13-horse field, and the
1 1/16-mile race features a short run to the first turn. Miss Josh has the speed to gain position, but the prospect of a soft turf course worries Tagg as well. His filly was beaten by 14 lengths in her only race on soaked earth.
The withdrawal of Miss Unnameable, who's trained by Wayne Lukas, made Miss Josh's task a littler easier. Still, 11 of her 12 rivals have won stakes races. Houston's Retirement
Houston, the champion Maryland-bred 3-year-old of 1989, has been retired to stud in Kentucky at Walmac International, where he'll stand for a live-foal fee of $10,000.
Although he won the Derby Trial, Bay Shore and King's Bishop stakes last year, Houston was considered somewhat of a disappointment as a racehorse. Assorted injuries limited him to 11 starts -- which produced five victories and $240,632 -- but more was expected from a colt who commanded $2.9 million as a yearling. Houston is by Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew out of the champion mare Smart Angle.
Others to begin stud duty in Kentucky next year include Carson City ($7,500), Red Ransom ($7,500) and Beau Genius ($6,000). . . .
Ten Keys apparently will not race again this year, but owner Charlie Linhoss and trainer Mike Pino said the turf star is likely to run in 1991 as a 7-year-old. Linhoss said they reconsidered sending Ten Keys to a minor stakes race at Churchill Downs this weekend, deciding instead to rest the million-dollar winner, who has the makings of a stallion. . . .
Mike Luzzi rode three winners yesterday to move into second place in the jockey standings, four victories shy of the sidelined Edgar Prado. Luzzi passed Joe Rocco, who called in sick yesterday with the flu.