Buy the Firm had a merry go-round in the Carousel Handicap at Laurel yesterday while Ben Perkins Jr. and Rick Wilson shared the platform.
Trainer Perkins improved his remarkable winning percentage with two victories from three starters, one a nine-length runaway by a horse who never had raced. Wilson guided the 2-year-old, Good Scout, and Perkins's other easy winner on the way to four triumphant rides that moved him into second place for the meeting.
And the double-triple triple jackpot grew to $159,951.
Buy the Firm has entered a new dimension since trainer Carlos Martin, 21, removed her from George Steinbrenner's stable with a $32,500 claim. Her three-quarters-length victory over Thirty Eight Go Go in the Carousel brought her winnings to $409,988 in 1990.
The 4-year-old filly showed no signs of wear in her 22nd start of the year, dutifully carrying a race-high 122 pounds as the 9-10 favorite. Jerry Bailey eschewed an afternoon at Aqueduct to ride her for the eighth straight time, and now has won more than 25 stakes races at eight tracks since Aug. 22.
Buy the Firm stayed close to the pacesetting Seattle Dawn, and on the outside moved past the leader approaching the stretch. Thirty Eight Go Go was stalking along the rail with Sweet Alex to her right when Buy the Firm took over at the top of the lane and then drifted out. Thirty Eight Go Go advanced through a large opening between Buy the Firm and Seattle Dawn but couldn't run down the leader, who went 1 1/8 miles in 1:50 4/5.
Starfield was eased to the wire after she apparently took a bad step early in the stretch and nearly fell. The filly who had given jockey Andrea Seefeldt her richest victory Nov. 10, gave her a scare yesterday, but Starfield galloped on gingerly and later walked off the track.
"What happened felt like what happens when a horse breaks down," Seefeldt said. "I thought she was gone. But she pulled up okay."
Perkins and Wilson struck in their first effort of the day as Good Scout debuted with aplomb, going six furlongs in 1:10 1/5 to win the second race with ease. "We hope he's going to be a stakes-caliber horse," said Perkins, who has a number of those in his barn.
After Butterscotch Baby was defeated, Hero's Hurrah won an allowance race by eight lengths to give Perkins a 16-for-35 record at Laurel this fall. A 45.7 winning percentage would be dominant most meets, but this is no ordinary meet; Howard Wolfendale is at 44.2 percent (23 for 52).
"I don't say anything; I just sit there, keep quiet and keep bringing them over here," Perkins said. "We don't shoot at any percentage. We just try to do the best we can for the people who have their money invested. Percentages and training titles aren't important; making money for our owners is. We wouldn't run a $20,000 horse for $10,000 just to win a title."
Wilson's four victories gave him 49 for the meet, displacing Joe Rocco as Laurel's No. 2 winner. Mike Luzzi leads with 61.
The chances of double-triple liquidation increased markedly after third-place Dinner Mint was disqualified in the third race. The filly, an 85-1 shot, cut in front of three horses entering the far turn; following an objection by Darren Muino and a lengthy review by the stewards, she was lowered to 12th. Two Thirteen (7-1) moved up to third.
That created 99 live tickets instead of nine, but more were needed even as favored Finita La Musica won the fifth race in a relatively small field of 10. The second choice, Real Irish, failed to make the ticket as No Dubbs (7-1) and Errant Hit (8-1) finished second and third.