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Eclipse nomination makes Cole a merry soul

December 24, 2006|by LARRY YANOS

Thoroughbred owner Robert Cole Jr., who competes regularly at the Charles Town Races & Slots, has been nominated for an Eclipse Award.

And based on some impressive statistics from the 2006 campaign, the 43-year-old resident of Highland, Md., just might wind up in the ultimate winner's circle on Jan. 22, 2007 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Heading into the weekend, Cole's thoroughbreds have 186 wins, 93 places and 50 shows in 449 starts, good for a 41.4 win percentage while finishing in the money 73.4 percent. His horses have earned over $3 million.

"There's no one in the history of horse racing who has finished in the top three in wins and finished with a win percentage of 40 percent or better," Cole said. "That's quite an accomplishment."

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In 2006, only owners Maggi Moss and Lewis D. O'Brien have more wins than Cole.

"I'm real pleased with the win percentage and my horses have earned an average of $7,000 per start, That's good money," Cole said. "I own 33 horses and run everything from $4,000 to $250,000."

Although he runs many horses at Charles Town, Cole is also active at the Maryland racetracks, Delaware Park and Philadelphia Park.

Followers of the Charles Town racing scene are very familiar with Cole's horses, especially classy Outcashem.

"A nice horse," Cole said of Outcashem. "He's getting some time off now but I'd say 30 of my 33 horses run the year around. It is very rare that we have horses eating and not running for money. I have mostly sprinters, I specialize in speed horses."

In 2006, the sprinter set track records at Charles Town (4 1/2 furlongs) and Philadelphia Park (5 furlongs).

He, Rain Song, Riproarious, Morine's Victory and Remarquable Tale are all Cole horses who won stakes races and set or tied track records in 2006.

Cole primarily uses the services of trainers Scott Lake, Howard Wolfendale, Stephanie Beattie and David Wells.

"Lake and Wolfendale are exceptional at working with sprinters," Cole said. "Getting to the lead is a very big advantage. Horses run better with the lead. You want that as often as you can."

There's one more thing Cole wants: The Eclipse Award.

"It's my first year being nominated and it's quite an honor," Cole said.

Barbaro stakes

The Maryland Jockey Club announced it has changed the name of the Sir Barton Stakes to the Barbaro Stakes. The 1-1/16th mile race for three-year-olds is one of eight added-money races on the Preakness undercard.

Barbaro, the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner, is recovering from a shattered hind leg sustained during the middle jewel of the Triple Crown. He remains in intensive care at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's New Bolton Center.

Owned by Roy and Gretchen Jackson, the son of Dynaformer won the 2005 Laurel Futurity as a two-year old. Based in Maryland at the Fair Hill Training Center, the Michael Matz trainee won six races at five different tracks on the turf, over the slop and on fast tracks.

The Sir Barton Stakes, named after the first horse to capture the Triple Crown in 1919, debuted at Pimlico in 1993. Sarava was the most famous winner - using the race as a springboard to a victory in the 2002 Belmont Stakes three weeks later.

Pony tales

Seven jockeys have been barred indefinitely from Tampa Bay Downs, pending an investigation into an undisclosed matter.

Jorge Bracho, Derek Bell, Luis Castillo, Jose Delgado, Terry Houghton, Joseph Judice and Ricardo Valdes have been refused access, based on the track's "rights as a private property owner."

Voting has begun for the eighth annual NTRA Moment of the Year is under way at www.ntra.com.

Voters can choose from 10 images from the year's racing. Anyone selecting the winning image automatically will be entered in a random drawing for a $1,000 grand prize.

The winning moment will be announced at the Eclipse Awards.

The moments were selected to illustrate a wide range of human emotions and achievements, as well as outstanding displays of equine athleticism.

The following are the season's top moments, listed chronologically:

· Barbaro wins the Kentucky Derby by a whopping 6 1/2 lengths.

· Barbaro is injured in the Preakness as Bernardini wins impressively.

· The racing world keeps vigil as Barbaro fights for his life.

· Lava Man wins the Pacific Classic and becomes the first to sweep the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup and Pacific Classic in the same year.

· Trainer Todd Pletcher breaks Wayne Lukas's records for most stakes wins and graded stakes wins in one year.

· Street Sense rolls to victory in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile by a record 10 lengths.

· Ouija Board displays her dominance in capturing a second Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

· Invasor defeats Bernardini in a thrilling Breeders' Cup Classic.

· Discreet Cat equals Easy Goer's track record in taking the Hill 'n' Dale Cigar Mile at Aqueduct.

· Jockey Russell Baze breaks Laffit Pincay Jr.'s record for most career victories.

Larry Yanos is sports editor of The Daily Mail. He covers horse racing for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7520, or by e-mail at larryy@herald-mail.com

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