The Laurel Park summer training title went down to the wire, with Tim Keefe and Hamilton Smith tied at 10 entering the final race after Smith won the fifth with Boosting ($8). Keefe had a chance to take the title outright, but his Path Dependent dead-heated for second in Sunday’s finale.
It was the first training title for Keefe, who turned 49 Aug. 15 and entered the summer stand having gone a combined 9-for-91 at the Laurel and Pimlico meets to open 2016. Last year, he finished third in Laurel’s summer and fall meets and fifth at Pimlico. Keefe posted two-win days on July 2 and July 23.
“I’m very pleased with it. We started out real strong; I wish we would have finished a little stronger than we did but we had a great first part of the meet and we’ve got some really good talent in the barn,” Keefe said. “I’m very fortunate to have some probably some of the best owners in Maryland for which I train, and back in the barn I’ve got great help back there. The behind-the-scenes guys really get everything running and keep it going well for me. I’m lucky, no complaints. I’ve never been in the lead at the end of the meet before so I’m excited about that. If I have to share it with someone I’m thrilled to be able to share it with Hammy. He’s a great trainer, good competitor, places his horses where they need to run and his horses always run big.”
It was the fifth career meet title for the 71-year-old Smith and first since finishing in a three-way tie with Dale Capuano and Gammy Vazquez for Laurel’s 2007 spring meet. He also led Laurel’s 1998-99 winter, 1999 summer and 2000 winter-spring meets. Smith had a pair of two-win days during the meet, on July 23 and Aug. 5.
“I had a good meet, I really did. Some of the better horses ran well, and I’m glad to see them use some of the better races for them. I had a good meet overall. I can’t complain,” Smith said. “It’s a good feeling. You win the title and it gives you a good feeling. I don’t care what anybody says, it does. My hat’s off to him. He had a good meet and so did I. I’m pleased with what I accomplished.”