LAUREL -- Another Maryland horse has tested positive for metabolites of cocaine.
Smart Alec, trained by Richard Delp, was found to have the drug in his system, the Maryland stewards announced yesterday. Delp immediately won a stay, pending appeal, of the 15-day suspension from the Maryland Racing Commission.
Smart Alec, a 3-year-old, tested positive after winning the seventh race June 14 at Pimlico Race Course.
With Delp's case marking the third of its kind this year, cocaine in horses has become an increasingly heated issue. Trainer Carlos Garcia has a case under appeal, and Charlie Hadry, after losing his appeal to the commission in May, has an appeal waiting in circuit court.
Central to the controversy is whether the absolute insurer rule, which holds trainers ultimately responsible for their horses, should be so strictly applied in the case of cocaine. In each recent case, trace amounts of cocaine have been found, and the involved trainers say they believed the horses to be inadvertently tainted by a backstretch employee.
* Wide Country goes for her ninth straight victory in tomorrow's $75,000 Pearl Necklace Stakes at Laurel Race Course.
The 3-year-old filly drew post No. 2 for her grass debut and will be a heavy favorite over five rivals.
Wide Country embarked on her streak last Nov. 24 when winning the Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship and has been unbeatable since. Her last victory came in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, Maryland's definitive race for 3-year-old fillies.
Wide Country is using the race as a springboard to the $100,000 Nijana Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 1.
Also entered in the Pearl Necklace are The Knight's Queen, Empornette, Ritchie Trail, Jolie Britt and John's Decision.
NOTES: In Wide Country's first victory in her current streak, Gala Goldilocks was a losing 2-5 favorite. Gala Goldilocks makes her first start since that loss in today's Laurel feature. . . . A field of nine fillies and mares has been entered for tomorrow's $100,000 Delaware Handicap, highlight of the Delaware Park meeting. Maryland runners Wait For the Lady, Sweet Alex and Crowned are going. . . . The Delaware Handicap is the lone simulcast on tomorrow's 12-race program at Laurel/Pimlico. On Sunday, either the Sheepshead Bay Handicap or the Long Branch Stakes will be piped in. . . . In an unusual move, King Leatherbury has put 9-year-old I Am the Game back in training. The horse has been unproductive at stud and will attempt a racing comeback in several months. I Am the Game, a four-time stakes winner, last ran in 1986. . . . Through 6 racing days, Rick Wilson leads the Laurel jockey standings over Edgar Prado, 8-6. . . . Alberto Delgado said yesterday that he may return to riding regularly in Maryland as soon as 2 weeks. He has been riding at Monmouth Park without much success. . . . Rider assignments for the $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel on July 20: Craig Perret staying with Housebuster and Corey Black on Safely Kept.