First win for trainer Kerry Hohlbein

3 Reasons Racing’s Magic Mule maintained a short lead through the first half-mile before pulling away to a comfortable and popular 2 ¾-length triumph Thursday at historic Pimlico Race Course, giving trainer Kerry Hohlbein her first career training victory.

Making his 39th lifetime start in the entry-level allowance for 3-year-olds and up sprinting six furlongs, 6-year-old gelding Magic Mule ($7.40) completed the distance in 1:01.57 over a fast main track while under wraps by jockey Angel Cruz.

Magic Mule set early fractions of 23.79 and 46.74 seconds while racing on the rail before opening up to a five-length lead at the top of the stretch, going five furlongs in 58.39. He was on cruise control through the lane to his fourth career win as Brilliant Ice rallied late to get second.

It was the 36th career starter and 11th this year for the 38-year-old Hohlbein, a Baltimore native who rode in Maryland over parts of four years between 2007 and 2011, winning 17 of 248 races.

Hohlbein’s first starter, Money Room, finished fifth March 26, 2022 at Laurel Park. The next day Magic Mule ran fourth in a Laurel allowance.

Previously trained by W. Thomas ‘Skip’ McMahon, Magic Mule had run 16 times for Hohlbein with three seconds and five thirds before scoring the milestone win. Two of his runner-up finishes – May 21, 2022 at Pimlico and Oct. 16, 2022 at Laurel – came by a neck. In the other, he was beaten a nose by H P Moon in a six-furlong Laurel allowance Jan. 22.


“That horse I love,” Hohlbein said. “He tries his eyeballs out every time. You can’t say enough good things about him.”

Holhbein had one other starter Thursday, 3-year-old Maryland-bred maiden gelding S S Sinatra, who ran fourth in Race 6.

Kerry Hohlbein
Kerry Hohlbein with her first winner as trainer of record, Magic Mule, at PImlico. Photo Jim McCue.

A graduate of Baltimore’s Lansdowne High School, Hohlbein did not come from a racing background but was inspired by Rosie Napravnik and Forest Boyce to become a jockey. Boyce, a finalist for the 2010 Eclipse Award as champion apprentice, continues to ride in Maryland.

According to Equibase statistics, Hohlbein made her pro riding debut Dec. 28, 2007 at Laurel, finishing seventh on Family Appeal. While working for trainer Dale Capuano, she had five mounts in 2008 and did not ride in 2009 before getting 43 mounts in 2010 and riding her first winner, Dixie Thief, Oct. 27 at Laurel.

Hohlbein’s final mount came Dec. 2, 2011 at Laurel.  She also rode at Pimlico, the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Charles Town, Colonial Downs, Delaware Park, Parx and Penn National over her career.

In 2020 Hohlbein began galloping for Hamilton Smith, the Laurel-based trainer with more than 2,000 career winners. She and her husband, Juan, started out with two horses.

“I figured I’d try something new, something different,” Hohlbein said. “We’re starting off with just us and seeing how things pan out.”