By BILL MOONEY
Special to the Herald-Star
CHESTER - Eddie Martin Jr. has already been an addition of impact to the 2014 Mountaineer jockey colony. The 40-year-old Martin, a native of New Orleans, booted the 53-1 shot Three Square Meals to victory in the seventh race on Saturday's season-opening card. On Sunday, Martin won the third race with the 2-1 second choice Angel of Fire. The triumph by Three Square Meals was achieved going wire-to-wire in a one-mile allowance. Angel of Fire came from last to first in a six-furlong race for $5,000 claimers. The pair of wins brought Martin's career total to 3,607. Among them are two dozen victories in graded events, the most lucrative being his score aboard Hero of Order in the 2012 edition of the Grade 2, $1,000,000 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds. Sent off as the longest shot in the field of 13, Hero of Order returned $220.80 for a two-dollar win mutuel. Martin's resume also includes victories in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks with Real Cozzy in 2001; and in the Grade 2 Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland with She Says It Best in 2005.
Training triples don't occur frequently at Mountaineer (or any track), but Maria E. Pinzon achieved the feat on Saturday's card. Pinzon sent out the $5,000 claimer Jewelynamber to win the third race; the maiden allowance runner Havana Stroll to win the fourth race; and the allowance runner Musicinthehouse to win the featured $37,100 Welcome Back Dash. The three horses were ridden by three different jockeys: Didiel Osorio rode Jewelynamber; Erik Barbaran was aboard Havana Stroll; and Luis Martinez, Jr. rode Musicinthehouse. Pinzon was a perfect three-for-three on the card. She's based on a farm near Paris in central, Kentucky, and has a career strike rate at Mountaineer of 18 percent.
The fourth race on Monday's Mountaineer card, at five furlongs for $5,000 claimers, was won by the 10-year-old gelding Challenger. It was his 51st career start and 14th career win, joined by 20 placings and purse earnings of $131,149. In 2005, Challenger fetched a $260,000 price at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He didn't begin racing until age 4, when he won his career debut at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico. This is Challenger's seventh consecutive year competing, and he has been victorious at least once in each of them. Tom Hoop owns and trains Challenger, and Luciano Hernandez rode him on Monday, when he returned $39.20, $15.80 and $10.60 across the board.
With six days remaining in the Sam Houston Race Park meet, Deshawn L. Parker was tied for the lead in the jockey standings with Gerardo Moro - each had 29 wins. The strike rate for Parker was 31.2 percent, while Moro's was 17.6 percent. Parker has gone zero-for-eight with his stakes mounts at Sam Houston, although he has achieved a pair of black-type placings there. Parker career win total at Mountaineer is 4,231, of which 18 have come in stakes. Both of those figures are all-time records for a Mountaineer jockey.