Racetrack rolls out carpet for Arazi A frisky Derby favorite arrives in high style

April 27, 1992|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- "Angela, Angela, the horses are here," a little boy screamed to his sister yesterday afternoon from the front porch of their house on Rodman Avenue.

About 50 gawkers, a handful of reporters and photographers, and the president of Churchill Downs were waiting to greet Arazi, racing's trans-Atlantic super-horse, when he arrived -- apparently good condition -- at the historic track about 4 p.m. after a nine-hour flight from Paris.

The diminutive 3-year-old colt -- the favorite in Saturday's Kentucky Derby -- was controlled by a ring bit attached to his fleece-lined halter as he stepped out of a van onto a carpet of black foam rubber that had been rolled out especially for the equine celebrity.

He was immediately walked into a large white warehouse, located on a side street across from Churchill Downs, which serves as the track's quarantine station for foreign horses.

"Tres bien," said Gerard Fabien, one of three grooms and a night watchman who accompanied the horse, when asked about his condition.

Arazi looked quite frisky, avidly searching for food once he got into the quarantine facility, and seemed to have traveled well.

"He looked at me, and said, 'Bet the house,' " said Keith Kleine, an assistant with Churchill Downs' publicity department.

Millions will be bet Saturday on the horse who could be the shortest-priced favorite in the run for the roses since 4-5 choice Easy Goer finished second in 1989.

Arazi arrived at Standiford Field at Louisville about 2:15 p.m. on a chartered DC-8 equipped to hold 45 horses. He was accompanied by a stablemate named Akiko and two other foreign competitors in the Derby, Dr Devious and Thyer.

The flight cost the owners of the three horses $60,000, said Ron McAnally, who trains Dr Devious. Arazi is owned by Allen Paulson of Savannah, Ga., and Sheik Bin Rashid al Maktoum, a member of the ruling family of Dubai. Thyer is owned by the sheik's older brother, Maktoum al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai.

"I never knew there was such interest in Dr Devious," McAnally said jokingly to reporters, who had gathered at the airport to see Arazi.

Thyer started the Derby odyssey in Ireland. He was flown to England where the plane picked up Dr Devious. The latter colt was a $2.5 million present by Jenny Craig, whose weight-reduction company bears her name, to her husband Sidney for his 60th birthday.

The plane proceeded to Paris, where the two horses boarded the large DC-8 carrying Arazi and Akiko.

Once the horses landed in Louisville, veterinarians drew blood samples, as required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The horses' owners had chartered another jet to fly the samples to the USDA lab in Ames, Iowa. Once the horses' blood work has been cleared, they can be released from quarantine. That could be as early as tonight or as late as tomorrow morning.

lTC Then the horses will be transferred to the track stabling area and allowed to train over the racing surface.

Each Derby starter made the six-mile trip from the airport to the quarantine center in his own 12-horse van.

"I've covered presidential candidates and never seen them given this kind of treatment," said reporter Paula Smith.

"Arazi, I never heard of him when I was first told he was coming," said Rande Swann, who handles public relations for Standiford Field. "I thought Arazi was a heavy metal band. But now I know a famous horse when I see one."

The horse's trainer, Francois Boutin, is expected to arrive at Churchill Downs tomorrow evening from his training headquarters at Chantilly, outside of Paris.

Probable Derby field

The projected field for Saturday's 118th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs ($500,000 purse, 3-year-olds, 1 1/4 miles):

Horse..... ..... .....Jockey..... ..... Odds

Arazi..... ..... .....P. Valenzuela.... 7-5

A.P.Indy.. ..... .....Delahoussaye..... 3-1

Technology ..... .....J. Bailey........ 8-1

Devil His Due... .....M. Smith ........ 10-1

Pistols and Roses ....J. Vasquez....... 10-1

Dr Devious..... ......C. McCarron...... 15-1

Conte Di Savoya ......S. Sellers....... 15-1

Pine Bluff..... ......C. Perret........ 15-1

Dance Floor.... ......C. Antley........ 15-1

Lil E.Tee...... ......P. Day .......... 20-1

Disposal....... ......A. Solis......... 20-1

My Luck Runs North....R. Lopez......... 20-1

Al Sabin....... ......K. Desormeaux.... 20-1

Hickman Creek.. ......G. Stevens....... 30-1

Casual Lies.... ......G. Stevens....... 30-1

Thyer.......... ......C. Roche......... 30-1

Snappy Landing........J. Velasquez..... 30-1

Sir Pinder..... ......M. Lee........... 30-1

Ecstatic Ride.. ......J. Krone......... 30-1

West by West... .......J. Samyn........ 30-1

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