'Symph' could cause sparks to fly

November 20, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

If Maryland-bred 3-year-old colt Unfinished Symph beats Preakness winner Tabasco Cat this afternoon and defeats the rest of the field in the $400,000 Hollywood Derby, look for a little feistiness in the Hollywood Park winner's circle.

At least that's the reputation that his owner, Nancy Rice, has developed since she was part of a Breeders' Cup brouhaha a couple of weeks ago in Louisville.

Rice, an Israeli-born former psychology major at the University of Southern California, was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and alcohol intoxication. Rice struggled with, and allegedly struck, a Louisville police officer while she was watching Unfinished Symph run in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

Before seeing her horse actually finish third in the $1 million race, Rice said she was dragged away by a police officer and jailed for 4 1/2 hours.

"Cheering horse owner went from rail to jail" read the headline in the Louisville Courier-Journal the next morning.

"A nightmare," she recalls. "I spent the whole next day locked in my hotel room, crying." Her husband, she said, wondered what had happened to her when she didn't show up at their box after placing a bet. "He thought I had fainted from the excitement and was in an emergency room someplace," she said.

The horse is in such good shape, trainer Wesley Ward, a former Eclipse Award-winning apprentice jockey, said from his California stables last week that he's planning on going after major Grade I stakes races with him in 1995.

"East Coast races like the Caesars International, the Arlington Million and the Washington D.C. International," Ward said.

He bought the horse for $13,500, strictly on conformation, in last year's Florida 2-year-old sales from former Maryland breeder Stanley I. Joselson. He then re-sold him sight unseen in a package of four horses to Rice, who lives in Glendora, Calif., and one of her friends.

Rice and her husband, Andy, operate a company called Los Angeles Fund Raiser, a firm that sells programs to organizations to help them raise money.

While Tabasco Cat was prepping for the Triple Crown last winter, Unfinished Symph was just beginning his career in a $50,000 claiming race at Santa Anita Park.

Now the horse has developed into a running machine with two Grade III turf victories and his gutsy front-running third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

Already, Unfinished Symph has probably accomplished enough to be named 1994 Maryland-bred turf champion over Washington D.C. International runner-up Redcall and Maryland Million Turf winner Warning Glance.

"Now it's time to take on these big bullies like Tabasco Cat," said Rice, who is considering suing Churchill Downs and the city of Louisville.

Churchill Downs officials have said they won't comment before the matter is heard in court.

Rice returns to Louisville for a Nov. 29 court appearance and said she has taken pictures of bruises on her arms that document the policeman's brutality.

Meanwhile, she said, expect only her best behavior if Unfinished Symph wins today.

"We might be the rowdiest group at the track sometimes," Rice said. "But we're treated like celebrities by Mr. R.D. Hubbard, who owns Hollywood Park. He told us he wished more owners were like us."

Sunny Sunrise injured

Harry and Tom Meyerhoff's old campaigner, Sunny Sunrise, was expected to be the 119-pound second starting high weight yesterday in the $400,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup near Chicago.

But when his regular jockey, Jeff Carle, showed up to work him for the race at Laurel last week, trainer Bud Delp had bad news.

The 7-year-old horse had developed some filling in a tendon, "about in the same place where the same thing happened last year," said Delp's son and assistant, Gerald Delp. "It was recommended that we give him six months rest, so that's what we're going to do."

Gerald Delp said he expects the horse to come back next year at 8, but that the injury came "just when he was getting good again."

Under Carle's handling, Sunny Sunrise had won recent back-to-back stakes in the Polynesian and Lafayette handicaps.

Carle, meanwhile, has picked up a new agent -- former trainer John Betts. In addition to Carle, Betts is handling the book for apprentice Eric Payne, who recently arrived at Laurel from the Kentucky tracks.

Capuano horses star

Usually when horses of racing age are offered for sale in a bloodstock auction, they are old has-been runners or young untalented ones that someone wants to dispose of.

So, it was a little surprising to pick up the catalog for the Dec. 4-5 Fasig-Tipton mixed sale at Timonium and see two 1994 Maryland stakes winners up for sale.

Both horses, Honorable Flight and Foxie G., are 3-year-olds trained by Dale Capuano.

What gives?

"Nothing is wrong with either horse," Capuano said at Laurel on Friday. "Honorable Flight is strictly a turf runner and the grass season is over. If I go to Oaklawn Park for the winter, and I'm still thinking about doing that, there's nothing for him there, so I thought why not try to sell him."

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