LAUREL SBB — LAUREL -- Algenib is the point on the wing of Pegasus, the final touch to a fabled constellation. It might also be the star of one of Maryland's most fabled races.
Algenib, an Argentine colt, is one of seven foreign representatives expected to be entered today in the Budweiser International, which will be run for the 40th time Saturday at Laurel Race Course.
Juan Bauer, 21, owns majority interest in Algenib with his father, Horacio, an influential lawyer and bank president in Buenos Aires. Bauer arrived in Maryland early yesterday with Diego Lowther, his friend, adviser and interpreter, to await the 1 1/4 -mile International, highlight of Laurel's annual two-day Turf Festival.
Last year, as a 3-year-old, Algenib won Argentina's Triple Crown on turf before Lowther alerted Wally Dollase, a Southern California trainer, to the possibility of bringing the colt to the United States to run for larger purses. Dollase (de-LAW-see) flew to South America, spent five days observing the colt, and yesterday said: "We were looking for a good distance horse, and he fit the bill. I liked everything about him. He's a beautiful mover."
Argentina is a nation long known for producing excellent horses. Bayakoa and Festin are two recent examples of horses recruited from Argentina to become stars in the United States, but such a practice "is not a new one," said Lowther. "Charlie [Whittingham] and other trainers have been doing it for years."
Bauer, through Lowther, said Argentine horses "have great bloodlines that go way back. It's been a tough, selective process. The way they're raised also has a lot to do with it -- the pasture land and the climate. It's a great place to raise a young horse."
The Bauers agreed to sell Dollase and partners a 25 percent share in Algenib, and the colt was flown to California. Following a seven-month layoff -- a reasonably long respite, so as to acclimate -- Algenib made his first 1991 start on July 14 in a Hollywood Park allowance race. He won impressively, and although he has lost in three subsequent tries, he was a close second two starts back in the Arlington Million.
Kent Desormeaux, the former Maryland standout, rode Algenib in three of his four U.S. starts, but Laffit Pincay has the mount Saturday. Dollase said Bauer wanted Pincay, the Hall-of-Famer who has ridden two of the last four International winners. "Being from Argentina, they wanted a Latin rider," he said. "That's understandable."
Dollase said he hopes Pincay can help Algenib break some bad habits, including a reluctance for early rating that led to his most recent loss in the Man o' War Stakes at Belmont Park. South American horses, the trainer noted, "can be taught certain things they don't learn down there. But in the heat of the battle, they can go back to their headstrong ways."
Foreign runners have fared well in race history, although five of the last six winners have given American horses a 20-19 edge. The last triumph by an outsider, Le Glorieux of West Germany, came in 1987.
The only South American horse to win the International was El Chama, an Argentine-bred representing Venezuela, in 1955. The last to compete was Janus II of Brazil, eighth and last in 1976.
This International could have been a sort of South American championship. Wolf, champion 3-year-old last year in Chile, was pre-entered, but trainer Neil Drysdale yesterday pulled the colt out, citing a lack of seasoning. After going 8-for-8 in Chile, Wolf is 1-for-2 after also being exported to California.
Wolf's defection is the third from the preferred list of International pre-entries. Thakib will replace him from the also-eligibles list, maintaining a full field of 14.
Track officials expect International post positions to be drawn for: Algenib (Arg.), Fortune's Wheel (France), Fourstars Allstar (U.S.), Golden Pheasant (U.S.), Goofalik (France), Jolie's Halo (U.S.), Karmani (Canada), Leariva (France), Miss Alleged (France), Rebuff (U.S.), Sillery (France), Solar Splendor (U.S.), Super May (U.S.) and Thakib (U.S.).
That would be seven for the United States; one each for Argentina and Canada; and five for France, easily the most successful of six foreign nations to have won the race. French horses have won 13 times.
The Laurel Futurity and Selima Stakes, each worth $200,000, precede the International on the Saturday program. On Sunday, the $250,000 Laurel Dash and $300,000 All Along Stakes complete the five-race Turf Festival.
NOTES: First post on Saturday is noon. Sunday's is 12:30. . . . There is no live television coverage of the International. The race can be seen on a delayed telecast on ESPN Sunday at 1 p.m. . . . Solar Splendor, the Man o' War winner who figures a lukewarm favorite in the International, is scheduled for a 3-furlong workout this morning at Belmont, conditions permitting, before vanning to Laurel. . . . Dollase also trains Itsallgreektome, the 1990 American turf champion. The Breeders' Cup Turf on Nov. 2 is next for Itsallgreektome, Dollase said. . . . Suave Dancer, winner of the Oct. 6 Arc de Triomphe, is finished racing this year, meaning he will skip the Breeders' Cup.
Winning nations in the 39-year history of the International:
United States.. .. .. 20
France.. .. .. .. .. .13
Great Britain.. .. .. .2
Australia.. .. .. .. . 1
Ireland.. .. .. .. .. .1
Venezuela.. .. .. .. . 1
West Germany.. .. .. . 1