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Magee, Concepcion Capture Laurel Park Meet Titles

Veteran trainer Kieron Magee didn’t need a victory, but five-pound apprentice Axel Concepcion rode two winners as the pair claimed their respective meet titles as Laurel Park closed its spring meet Sunday.

Magee, 62, entered the eight-race, closing-day program without a starter but had n 11-8 lead over Jamie Ness in the trainer standings. Hugh McMahon won twice Sunday to pass Ness for second, while Brittany Russell wound up fourth with seven wins.

For the meet, which began April 1, Magee won at a 42% clip (11-for-42) while also registering five wins and four seconds to finish with a 77% in-the-money success rate. His horses banked $299,085 in purse earnings with three of his winners—Oxide , Aristocat , and Honor the Fleet —being claimed.

“It feels great because I’m down to 25 horses. To pull off a training title with 25 horses, that takes some doing,” Magee said. “I lost a bunch of them but they won on the way out. Everybody that got claimed won. I was thrilled to win it with such few starts. To have a high percentage is fantastic.”

A native of Ireland who worked as an exercise rider for recently retired trainer Dale Capuano after coming to the U.S., Magee led all Maryland trainers in wins from 2014-2016 and now owns or shares a total of 10 meet titles at Laurel and historic Pimlico Race Course. It was his first meet title since Pimlico’s 2018 spring stand.

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Magee registered at least one win on 10 of 16 racing days, including a double April 15. He won with three straight starters April 15-16 and registered a stakes win in the off-the-turf Henry S. Clark April 29 with Classier , a Grade 3 winner for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert in 2021 that has won both his starts since being claimed out of a March 19 win at Laurel.

“We claimed him for $40,000 and he came back and won the optional two and then we won a hundred grander with him,” Magee said. “He’s doing great. The phone’s been ringing. People want to buy him, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. My partner said, ‘Let’s not sell him. Let’s have some fun.'”

Magee is based year-round at Pimlico, where live racing in Maryland moves for the 15-day Preakness Meet starting Thursday, May 11 and running through Sunday, June 4. The 148th Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, will be run May 20 with the 99th Black-Eyed Susan (G2) for 3-year-old fillies contested on Preakness eve, May 19.

“I always love being back at Pimlico. It’s home for me,” Magee said. “Hopefully we can keep it going.”

Axel Concepcion
Photo: Maryland Jockey Club

Axel Concepcion

Concepcion, who turned 18 March 16, entered Sunday with 12 wins, one behind co-leaders Jevian Toledo and Jeiron Barbosa. Concepcion won the opener on I Have Courage  ($5.40) to make it a three-way tie before riding Fancee Grace C  ($5.20) to victory in Race 5 and earn his first riding title.

A native of Puerto Rico, where he won 21 races after attending the Escuela Vocacional Hipica jockey school and turning pro Jan. 1, Concepcion registered wins on nine of 16 racing days with doubles April 1, 13, 14, and 29 prior to Sunday.

Represented by agent Tom Stift, Concepcion made his Maryland debut Feb. 24 and picked up his first winner, Shinelikeadiamond , the next day at Laurel in his fifth U.S. mount. He follows in the footsteps of Barbosa, who won three riding titles last year in Maryland and was a finalist for the Eclipse Award as champion apprentice.

Prior to Barbosa, the only apprentices in the past decade to win a meet title at Laurel were Yomar Ortiz (winter 2013) and Julio Correa (summer 2019). Correa was also an Eclipse finalist.

“I’m very confident for my work and the job Tom does for me. I don’t have pressure. The wins are coming and thank God for two wins today,” Concepcion said. “I ride all my horses with confidence. Thanks to all the owners and trainers that help me. In the morning I work very hard for this, my first meet that I win. I’m very grateful. Thanks to everyone for giving me the opportunity. I’m ready for Pimlico.”

Toledo, Maryland’s four-time leading rider including 2021 and 2022, led all jockeys at the spring meet with $632,615 in purse earnings. Toledo, who did not ride Saturday or Sunday at Laurel, won four races April 29 including three stakes – the Clark with Classier, Native Dancer on Nimitz Class  and Primonetta aboard Princess Kokachin . He also won the Weber City Miss April 15 with 3-year-old filly Cats Inthe Timber .


This press release has not been edited by BloodHorse. If there are any questions please contact the organization that produced the release.

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