Devilish Touch may give trainer Garcia chance to beat Safely Kept

HORSE RACING

June 23, 1991|By MARTY McGEE

Ever since she made a mockery of her first start -- a stakes race at that -- Devilish Touch has been a prime candidate to become the next Safely Kept.

Trainer Carlos Garcia should know something about that. He had Safely Kept, the top active earner among Maryland-breds and 1990 national sprint champion, when she was a 2-year-old before she went to trainer Alan Goldberg. And now he has Devilish Touch in his barn.

Garcia said last week that he considers the 3-year-old filly to be "in the same league" with Safely Kept and that a match in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, won last year by Safely Kept, is his goal.

Devilish Touch, a daughter of Devil's Bag, easily won the Toddler Breeders' Cup Stakes at Laurel Race Course last summer in her career debut and has gone 3-for-4 since. Her only 1991 start was an easy victory in a minor stakes at Monmouth Park. Garcia said the filly's next two races will be the Prioress and Test Stakes, both in New York.

Whether he would admit it or not, there are few things Garcia would rather do than beat Safely Kept. There is nothing more heart-wrenching for a trainer than to take a horse from scratch, watch it begin fulfilling its potential -- then lose it to another trainer as it goes on to gain great acclaim.

Garcia, to his credit, never has been publicly vindictive about what might have been. But continuing progress from Devilish Touch could set up a dramatic confrontation.

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Squelching the rumors:

If business remains down at Pimlico/Laurel, will management close Pimlico intertrack betting when Laurel begins its long fall/winter meet in October?

"We have no present plans to do that," Joe De Francis, president and controlling owner of both tracks, said Friday.

With the Texas Racing Commission accepting bids for a Dallas/Fort Worth-area Class I track tomorrow, will members of the Laurel/Pimlico ownership team submit a proposal?

"We've had discussions with people down there, but in no way, shape or form is it a high priority right now," said De Francis. "We have no application prepared. You'll see no application from us [tomorrow]."

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De Francis said he thought last Sunday's steeplechase races at Pimlico were "very well received" and that he plans to discuss the possibility of having two more on one program at the Laurel summer meet (July 4-Aug. 23) with National Steeplechase and Hunt Association officials.

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Speculation has been rampant about who will become the next chairman of the Maryland Racing Commission.

By law, Gov. William Donald Schaefer must replace the current chairman, Dr. Ernest Colvin, by July 1.

McGee's Chairman Line: Dr. Allan Levey, 6-5; Carol McGowan, 8-5; John H. Mosner Jr., 3-1; and Peter Bozick, 5-1.

Appointment of a ninth panel member also is forthcoming from the governor. Margaret McManus, wife of Jim McKay, resigned last month from the commission.

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Once proclaimed to be the wave of the future, Equitrack already appears on its way out.

Equitrack, used in the United States at Remington Park in Oklahoma City, is a weather-resistant dirt track treated with a polymer. It was introduced when Remington opened in September 1988.

David Vance, Remington general manager, has been the surface's strongest proponent, but maintenance problems have led horsemen to voice strong opposition to it. Among other things, the surface reportedly becomes rubbery and inconsistent in hot weather.

A decision must be made soon whether to replace Equitrack with conventional dirt. "We are leaning in that direction because of the timing," Vance told The Associated Press. "We have to."

*

The $1 million Hollywood Gold Cup on Saturday at Hollywood Park in California will be yet another definitive test among the nation's handicap horses.

Sixth of 10 events in the American Championship Racing Series, the Gold Cup will not have point-leader Festin, who roared past Farma Way to win the most recent leg, the Nassau County Handicap. But with Farma Way and Summer Squall going, and the intrigue of them meeting turf specialists Prized and Itsallgreektome, nationwide interest in the series should continue.

Festin will likely return to the series on July 20 in the New England Classic at Rockingham Park.

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Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens will be the judge at the 57th annual Maryland Horse Breeders Association Yearling Show. The show is today at 10 a.m. at the Timonium Fairgrounds.

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Friday night's Mike Tyson-Donovan "Razor" Ruddock rematch can be seen on closed-circuit television at the Laurel and Pimlico sports palaces. Tickets, at $25 each, are available at both tracks during racing days and on fight night. Gates open at 8 p.m.

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