A potentially nasty controversy was averted yesterday when Dash For Dotty's owner and trainer decided not to enter the horse in tomorrow's $125,000 Frederico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
The nomination of the one-time Kentucky Derby hopeful for the Tesio was under fire from rival trainers who did not see the horse's name on the list of nominations, which closed April 2.
So, owner Henry Rosenberg, a prominent Baltimore businessman, and trainer Bill Donovan decided not to run the 3-year-old gelding, who finished a dull ninth in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 11, losing his chance at the Derby.
"Mr. Rosenberg hated the controversy. He didn't want to get into it," said Donovan. "Rather than cause suspicion, we went this way. I think we're better off going on our own."
Track president Joe De Francis had said earlier this week that Rosenberg had given him Dash For Dotty's nomination while they were in Florida last winter. On Wednesday, an anonymous trainer was quoted in the Daily Racing Form as "seeing red" over the development.
De Francis told the newspaper he "neglected to inform [racing secretary] Larry Abbundi about it, so he [Dash For Dotty] wasn't placed on the list of horses nominated as he should've been."
But it all became academic when 11 horses were named for the Tesio field and Dash For Dotty wasn't among them.
"The [Pimlico] track has been bad all week and I really haven't done anything with him since we left Kentucky," said Donovan. "I never got to work him. You'd go out in the fog and couldn't see 10 feet.
"Then all this came up, and it wasn't good to run him."
Donovan said he will point the horse for a race on the turf on May 30.
"I have always thought that was his best spot," he said. "He ran once on the grass and set a track record at Gulfstream."
* Under exercise-rider Ruben Hernandez, Best Pal worked a half-mile in 48 4/5 seconds yesterday morning in his first major drill for the Pimlico Special on May 9.
The surface was still muddy during the workout, but Hernandez said Best Pal "felt like he was getting a hold of it well. He wasn't bobbling or slipping. He enjoyed himself."
He ran well out from the inside rail for the fastest half of the morning. Hernandez had Best Pal in hand for the entire work, which was labeled "breezing" by Daily Racing Form clockers.
Hernandez telephoned trainer Gary Jones in California afterward and reported that Jones "was happy" with the time.
Best Pal is unbeaten in four starts this year and has won $1,255,000. He will be ridden by California-based Kent Desormeaux, the winner of five Pimlico riding titles and the nation's leading money-winning jockey this year.
NOTES: Majesty's Turn had things his way in yesterday's featured $18,000 allowance race, winning by 8 1/2 lengths under jockey Alberto Delgado. The favorite led all the way in the 1 1/16-mile test. . . . Among those set to challenge John The Bold in the Tesio are Speakerphone, Ameri Valay and Frottage. If John The Bold wins, he probably would head for the Kentucky Derby. . . . Edgar Prado had his 31st victory of the meet yesterday and went 14 ahead of co-runners-up Michael Luzzi and Larry Reynolds in the jockey race.