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Marino builds Big M momentum

February 25, 2011
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Trainer Chris Marino is off to a swift start this season at the Meadowlands.

Through Feb. 24, Marino ranks third in the trainer standings with 11 victories from his 47 starters and $120,495 in purses won.  He trails Lou Pena, who has started more than double the number of horses, by only four wins for second.  The 2001 leading trainer at the Meadowlands comes off his best season in more than a decade, with a personal best of 139 wins and $1,572,401 in earnings in 2010.

"I had a pretty good year in 2010, spreading my stable out, and I raced a lot at Saratoga," Marino said.  "I moved my stable to New York a couple of years ago because of the money in this state.  I'm at Richie Banca's farm in Mount Hope, so Saratoga fit into my loop.

"I got off to a fast start this year with my horses fitting well," he continued.  "Plus I got some good horses from Carmine Fusco, who went to Florida for the winter.  His owner is Howard Jacobs, and I've had horses for him in the past.  He likes to keep his horses classified well where they can be competitive, so that makes my job a lot easier.

"We've had a rough winter up here, but I've been fortunate to have success at the Meadowlands and Yonkers.  Many times when we move horses back and forth between tracks it's based on what classes are available.  It's wherever they fit, so I just ship them around to get them raced.  Nobody wants a horse that is sound and able sitting in the barn."

Marino will send out six starters on the Meadowlands' Saturday, Feb. 26 card: Boo's Boy, Four Starzzz King, Mr Hallowell, Last Conquest, Cole Hard Cash and Bugatti Hanover.

"Boo's Boy [race two, post six] is just a horse who likes to win, and he's a very competitive, classy horse," Marino said.  "Again, Howard Jacobs likes to have his horses in where there can win, and he doesn't like to move them up in class.  Boo's Boy is better from off the pace following cover.  He's got a real good brush to him if you don't use him too much.  I gave him and a bunch of our horses a few weeks off because they've been racing hard and obviously they're older.  He's 10.

"Four Starzzz King [race three, post one] is another 10-year-old who's been very consistent.  I've had him for a long time.  We bought him three and half years ago at Harrisburg for just $3,000.  Part of what keeps older horses like him so good is we swim them.  We have a heated pool here and he doesn't go on the track at all.  It also doesn't hurt when you get Brian Sears to drive the horse.

"Mr Hallowell [race four, post four] was a 1:48.3 winner last year for Chris Carrubba, but the horse hasn't come around yet this season.  With him, he was just tired, and we've been trying to freshen him up a bit.  He had a pretty rough campaign.  He started out in cheaper claimers and had to work his way up.  He's taking a big drop in class this week, and that's a much better spot for him on Saturday.  He just needs to beat somebody.

"Last Conquest [race six, post three] has been a great claim for Mocoo Inc. and Jonathan Klee Racing.  They took him out of a $10,000 claimer at Indiana Downs last October.  He's been really consistent.  He was very good last week.  He's been in against tougher horses.  He's a very game horse who can race either way, and he picks up Tim Tetrick.

"We claimed Cole Hard Cash [race 11, post two] for $20,000 last week for Louis De Castro, Jr.  That was his doing, and he's a new client for me.  The horse got stung from the 10-hole pretty hard two weeks ago.  When we get a new horse like him we kind of start from scratch.  First thing we do is take his blood.  He came up a little sick after that start, so we've tried to get him healthy and put him on a light schedule.  It depends on how a horse raced.  In his case, he didn't do well, so we'll make a few changes.  I have no idea what his routine was, but older horses are pretty set in the way they're treated.  I always turn my horses out every day.  That's why I'm on a farm.  I'm big on putting them in the field.

"Bugatti Hanover [race 12, post one] was another good claim for Howard Jacobs [$15,000 at Pocono Downs on September 29, 2010].  He's a nine-year-old.  I like older horses.  If you keep them happy and sound, they go.

Marino, 48, is best known for campaigning two-time Dan Patch Award-winning trotting filly Syrinx Hanover, who was an undefeated 12-for-12 in 2001.  She banked $1,018,629 that year, while winning the Hambletonian Oaks and Del Miller Memorial.  Syrinx Hanover passed away last April after a serious case of dystocia.

"I'm training eight two-year-olds, and always looking for the next Syrinx Hanover," Marino said.  "Everybody wants a champion.  John Campbell told me when Syrinx went undefeated as a three-year-old to enjoy that.  When it was all happening I really didn't get what he saying, but when she was done racing I started getting it.  You appreciate it when you don't have it.  It's a shame she died.  She was a pretty good broodmare.  All four of her foals made the races.  Her best one has been Syenite, and she has a good Yankee Glide two-year-old filly training in Florida." (Meadowlands)
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