Met Mile expected to cut Wind Splitter back to size

May 27, 1991|By Marty McGee

Wind Splitter ran in the Kentucky Derby as a 3-year-old and the Pimlico Special as a 4-year-old. In his only two starts as a 5-year-old, he won both impressively, tying a track record in the second outing.

So you'd figure in his next start, Wind Splitter would get a little respect, that he would be 4-5 or 8-5, and that he'd get a few notes of praise to go along with his role as a strong favorite.

Try 30-1.

Try totally ignored.

You try the Metropolitan Mile and 13 of the nation's best horses, and your feats are reduced quickly in scope.

The $636,000 Met, being run today at Belmont Park in New York and simulcast to Pimlico Race Course and the Laurel intertrack outlet, has drawn Housebuster and a terrific supporting cast, making it one of the year's best races.

Wind Splitter, owned by Randy Williams of Pasadena, will be attempting to pull a shocker. The Maryland-based gelding, trained by Dale Capuano and to be ridden by Mike Luzzi, is rated no better than a 30-1 chance by Don LaPlace, the Belmont oddsmaker.

That Wind Splitter has done enough to encourage Capuano to try the Met is something of a wonder.

Last summer, Wind Splitter suffered a broken sesamoid, a leg-bone injury that often renders a horse a shadow of itself -- if it ever makes it back to the races.

"[Veterinarians] were saying it was 50-50 he'd be able to come back," Capuano said.

"We were just hoping he'd make it back, period," Williams said.

"We'd have been satisfied if he'd been competitive in high claiming races. But now he's better than he ever was."

Wind Splitter ran mostly in routes at 3 and 4, but when he returned to the races April 19 at Garden State, he ran six furlongs in 1 minute, 9 4/5 seconds, fast time for a track that has played slow this spring.

In his next start, he tied the Philadelphia Park mark for the same distance, winning in 1:08 1/5.

One mile, which he'll run today, should be "perfect," Capuano said.

"It should be his best distance," he said. "Every time we've laid him off, he's gotten better when he came back. He seems to be doing the same thing."

Of course, doing big things in New Jersey and Pennsylvania seldom translates into respect from fans in New York, where the biggest purses on the East Coast are offered.

Housebuster, the 1990 national sprint champion and a winner of the Carter Handicap in his most recent start, is just one rival sure to draw more wagering support today than Wind Splitter.

Still, Williams is ecstatic about the progress made by Wind Splitter, who ran 11th in the 1989 Derby and sixth in the 1990 Pimlico Special.

Even if he fails to be a factor in the Met, there's a good chance he could become one of the dominant handicap runners on the Maryland circuit.

Capuano, meanwhile, will be in action at Pimlico today while he is in New York to saddle Wind Splitter.

He has In the Curl in the $40,000 Jacob France Handicap, which immediately precedes the Met on the 12-race program.

NOTES: Although the Met drew 14, there will be no need for a mutuel field for the Pimlico/Laurel simulcast. The tracks can accommodate up to 14 separate betting interests. . . . The Jersey Derby simulcast follows the Met. . . . Today's Memorial Day card is the second and last scheduled Monday program of the meeting. . . . Score one for The Racing Times in its past-performance war with Daily Racing Form. You can get Pimlico PP's for both Monday and Tuesday in one $2.50 edition of Racing Times. The Form's are sold separately for $2.50 each.

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