2 of best local 3-year-olds meet today

January 29, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Two of the best local Preakness-age colts clash today for the first time in the Dancing Count Stakes at Laurel Race Course.

They are the proven stakes winner, Run Alden, and the unbeaten 3-year-old, Can't Be Denied, who has won his first two Laurel starts by a combined total of 11 1/2 lengths.

A third principal contender, graded stakes winner Popol's Gold, will be scratched, according to his trainer, Billy Turner.

Run Alden, winner of the Maryland Million Nursery and Maryland Juvenile Championship, "gave us a scare three weeks ago when he slipped and hurt his stifle [hip joint]," said the horse's owner, Hal C. B. Clagett. "Since then he hasn't been able to train because the weather has kept the track [at the Bowie Training Center] shut down much of the time. But he has been shedrowing [hacked in the barn]. We were able to blow him out three-eighths [in 37 seconds] Thursday morning. The stifle is fine, and he showed us he wants to run. So I'm 90 percent sure he'll start, although he gives 8 pounds to Can't Be Denied and will have his work cut out for him."

Can't Be Denied is making his stakes debut. His owners, a partnership of several Marylanders and headed by Dale Lucas of Brooklandville, have turned down a $300,000 offer for the horse, who is sired by 1982 Preakness runner-up Linkage.

Can't Be Denied was scheduled to start in the Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct a couple weeks ago. But when that race was canceled and then re-set for last weekend, "we went another route, which is to run in the Dancing Count," said Pappy Manuel, assistant to the horse's trainer, Carlos Garcia.

Can't Be Denied breezed five furlongs in 1 minute 1 2/5 seconds at Laurel on Tuesday. "He's ready," Manuel said.

Severe weather conditions have played havoc with training horses in the past couple of weeks, prompting Turner to scratch Popol's Gold today because he missed a scheduled workout over the Laurel strip last weekend.

The horse won the Grade III Nashua Stakes last month at Aqueduct.

When the track was closed yesterday for training, "I couldn't blow him out," Turner said. "So if he ran, I feel I'd be starting a short [unfit] horse.

"Now I'll go to Plan B. But I haven't figured out yet what that is."

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