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Bullet Catcher Wins at Laurel Park

Bullet Catcher, who made local and national headlines earlier this year after escaping from the Laurel Park backside and taking a 1.6 mile journey, won his first race in nearly two years with an impressive performance in Friday’s 8th race, a $40,000 allowance.


On January 11, the Jerry Robb trainee tossed jockey Jeremy Rose while heading back to the barn after a half-mile work and got loose. He made his way out of the stable gate, made a left on Whiskey Bottom Road and another left onto U.S. Route 1 before being caught, un-injured.  Jockey Abel Castellano captured part of the journey on his mobile phone, which enabled the story to go viral.


Castellano rode the 4-year-old gelding for the second consecutive time this afternoon. Bullet Catcher broke alertly then tracked the pace to the sixteenth marker before he surged ahead to win by 2-1/2 lengths in 1:04.71 for the 5-1/2 furlong distance.


“My main concern was to get him to relax and he did that. When I asked he responded,” Castellano said. “I am very happy to be able to win with him. We got our 15 minutes of fame two months ago and I am glad the connections thought enough of me to let me ride. He tries so hard and it was good to see him win.”


Bullet Catcher was sent off as the crowd favorite and paid $5.20.


The replay of the race can be found here: http://youtu.be/obCyGQ_zoQ8


The son of Strong Hope is now 2-of-11 lifetime with eight in the money finishes. His maiden score occurred in his debut on May 11, 2011 at Pimlico Race Course.



Mallory Strandberg cracked the winners’ circle at Laurel Park for the first time in her career, guiding Light Of Truth to victory in today’s opener.


Strandberg sent the Stephen Casey trained runner to the lead from their rail post in the two turn, 1-1/16th mile test for $5,000 claimers, disputed the pace with Moonlight Gin to the far turn before falling back to third, then came on again in the stretch to win going away. The son of Birdstone completed the distance in 1:50.29 and paid $5.80 as the second choice in the wagering.


Strandberg is a recent graduate of the Chris McCarron’s North American Racing Academy (NARA) in Lexington, KY. It was the 13th mount for the 22-year-old native of Danville, Washington.


“I am happy and am ready for more wins,” Strandberg said. “Horses have been part of my life forever. I was in college (Central Washington University) and it wasn’t going anywhere. We had to write a paper on our career choice and I decided right then to drop out of college and find a jockey school.”


The first professional jockey school in the United States, NARA teaches students the fundamentals of professional race riding and horse care with courses in nutrition, finance, communication, rules of racing and technology. Founded in 2006, its graduates have won more than 1,800 races.


“Mallory is fearless,” said McCarron, who ranks sixth on the all-time win list with 7,141 career victories. “She was barrel racing all her life, so she loves speed and has great balance. She learned a technique that I teach as far as a way I got horses to run quicker than any person in her class.”


Strandberg is one of two NARA graduates in the Maryland riding colony. Kristina McManigell ranks eighth in the rider standings with 17 victories from 93 mounts. The 24-year-old, who is in her fourth year as a professional rider, took Friday’s second race aboard No Conflict.


“When she was at my school, she was always one of the first to show up and would never leave the barn until everything was done,” added McCarron. “I am really proud of her. She took a really nasty spill at Parx a year ago where she broke some bones in her neck but she couldn’t wait to get back in the saddle. She has the gumption and the athletic ability. Kristina is very intelligent, who listens and retains information very easily. She has the whole package.”


McCarron was at Laurel Park last week (March 13-14-15), in part to visit with his pupils.



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