FIRST WIN BACK FOR FEARGAL LYNCH
In just the second ride of his comeback from neck and back fractures that kept him away from the races for 200 days, journeyman Feargal Lynch piloted James Wolf’s Nomo Ron to a 2 ½-length victory in Monday’s special Presidents Day holiday feature at Laurel Park.
Nomo Ron ($7.40), a 6-year-old Paynter gelding trained by Anthony Farrior, ran six furlongs in 1:10.45 over a sloppy and sealed main track to capture the third-level optional claiming allowance for older horses, his ninth career win.
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It was the first win for the 42-year-old Lynch since registering a hat track July 17, 2020 at Laurel, including a triumph on subsequent Maryland Million Turf Sprint and Claiming Crown Canterbury winner Fiya.
Represented by agent Chris Pipito, Lynch launched his comeback with a single mount Feb. 7 at Laurel, Graham Motion-trained Saintly Samurai, who was also racing for the first time since winning under Lynch last July 17. Lynch suffered a condylar fracture in his neck and wedge compression fracture in his back from a spill at Laurel just six days later.
“Yeah, that was nice. It makes it all worthwhile,” Lynch said. “I’m just glad to get the first winner back. I’m very thankful to Mr. Wolf and Anthony Farrior and all the people that helped me get here; my wife and my agent. It’s been a good team effort and I’m just happy for everybody that we’re back up and running.”
Lynch kept Nomo Ron in the clear three wide as Stroll Smokin and jockey Xavier Perez set the pace with Grade 3 winner and even-money favorite Always Sunshine, trained by Ned Allard, racing in between. Nomo Ron rolled up to take the lead on the turn after a half in 46.37 seconds and pulled away once straightened for home. Stroll Smokin finished second, with Always Sunshine third.
“I thought Ned Allard’s horse would have a bit more pace. I thought he’d go and attack Xavier,” Lynch said. “Xavier had the lead and my horse broke really well in my hands and was traveling well. I just didn’t want to disappoint him on that track. He got braver and braver and when we got into the straight, he went on about his business and he got the job done.”
Lynch is named on three horses when live racing returns to Laurel Park Friday, Feb. 19, including Grade 2 winner Shotski for trainer Jerry O’Dwyer. On the Feb. 20 Winter Sprintfest program, he will ride Needs Supervision for O’Dwyer in the $250,000 Runhappy Barbara Fritchie (G3), Majestic Dunhill in the $250,000 General George (G3) and Buckey’s Charm in the $100,000 Wide Country for 3-year-old fillies.
Winter Sprintfest, featuring six stakes worth $900,000 in purses, was rescheduled from Feb. 13 due to inclement weather that also cost Laurel Sunday’s Valentine’s Day card.
“We’re coming back and we’ll hopefully have a nicer track for this Saturday. I’ve got some rides Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Lynch said. “I’m looking forward to the stakes again. I think a lot of the horses are staying here, so they’re all going to be in the same boat.”
Lynch is a two-time meet leading rider at Pimlico Race Course, owning 526 career North American victories and nearly $19 million in purses earned, according to Equibase statistics. He is the younger brother of Laurel-based trainer Cal Lynch.
A former champion apprentice in England, Lynch rode Caribou Club to a record-setting victory in the 2019 Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup (G3) at Laurel, setting the Dahlia turf course mark of 1:33.35 for one mile.
Lynch was also the regular rider of retired multiple graded-stakes winning millionaire Irish War Cry during his undefeated 2-year-old season of 2016 that included a win in the Marylander, now Heft Stakes.