Filly's illness may derail Delp brothers' Geisha Handicap showdown

April 16, 1995|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

Filly against filly.

Brother against brother.

The anticipated first meeting between Calipha and Smart 'n Noble -- the two titans of Maryland's distaff division, who are trained by the Delp brothers, Bud and Dick, respectively -- might not get to the starting gate.

The two fillies, each 4 years old and each a former Maryland-bred champion, had been expected to start in the Geisha Handicap next Saturday as part of the Maryland Spring Breeders' Challenge.

Bud Delp said Friday that he is 90 percent certain Calipha will race.

But Dick Delp said things are looking doubtful for Smart n' Noble, who is working well but has been running a temperature.

"The way it looks now, we might not run," Dick Delp said. He added that it is also possible that the filly could be sold, although no formal negotiations are taking place.

After winning the state-bred championship at the age of 2, Smart 'n Noble missed most of her 3-year-old season because of a knee injury. But she came back better than ever this winter, winning the Barbara Fritchie and Snow Goose handicaps at Laurel.

In her last start, the Snow Goose, the filly's rider, Mario Pino, took himself off the horse to ride an out-of-town invader, who finished up the track.

It was a puzzling move that left the owners, Stewart and Steve Nickel and their mom, Pat, mystified and Delp a little bit angry. Larry Reynolds substituted for Pino and won the race.

But all has been forgiven and Delp said last week that Pino will ride the filly again, whenever she runs.

"Just my luck," Pino said. "I get back on the filly and she gets sick. But believe me, I'm happy to be on her."

In the meantime, Bud Delp is going through a possible rider shake-up with Calipha.

Rick Wilson rode Calipha last spring when she was an impressive wire-to-wire winner of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes and subsequently was named Maryland-bred 3-year-old filly champion for owner Nancy Bayard. "Rick came to Florida this winter, paid his own expenses to ride her, and has spent time helping me with her," Delp said.

But, Delp added, he is leaning toward riding Kent Desormeaux on Calipha in the Geisha. Desormeaux is flying in from California to ride Harry and Tom Meyerhoff's 3-year-old colt, Western Echo, on Saturday for Delp in the Federico Tesio Stakes. It's Desormeaux's first local appearance since he rode in the 1993 Maryland Million.

"How many times will I have the chance to get a rider of Kent's caliber?" Delp said. "I've talked it over in depth with Rick, and he understands."

Calipha worked at Laurel on Friday morning with Mark Johnston aboard, and ran five furlongs in 59 seconds. The filly, who had developed a severe case of bronchitis over the winter at Gulfstream Park, scoped clean for respiratory ailments after the work.

"Mark told me he loved the way she went," Delp said. "I'll work her again on Wednesday and then I'll know for sure if we go in

the Geisha."

Mosner's departure creates void

Wanted: astute person with a keen knowledge of finances and a love for horse racing to fill the position of Maryland racing commissioner.

When John H. "Jack" Mosner Jr. announced last week that he is resigning from the commission, the board not only lost a sincere devotee of the sport, but also a player who had the fans' best interests at heart.

But Mosner's forte was his experience, from being a former board chairman of one of the state's premier financial institutions to thoroughly examining state audits of the racetracks and explaining them and asking questions in a public forum that was easily understandable.

Mosner not only understood the figures, he could relate them to what was happening in the industry and give invaluable guidance to track operators as well as the board. Perhaps most importantly, he wasn't afraid to speak his mind.

Mosner's leadership was critical during the bankruptcy proceedings in 1991 of the state's harness tracks and during the period of record financial losses, which have been curbed, by Pimlico and Laurel.

"This is not just a loss, it's a tremendous loss," said Wayne Wright, executive director of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. Wright's sentiments have been echoed by just about every other leader in the industry.

The problem now is for Gov. Parris Glendening to find someone of Mosner's stature to fill his seat. It's a task vitally important as the harness tracks continue to go through financial and ownership problems and the flat tracks grapple with changes in

the thoroughbred side of the sport.

Largest Md. OTB parlor planned at Timonium

Plans to open Maryland's largest and most deluxe off-track betting parlor on the grounds of the Maryland State Fair might soon be finalized.

Howard M. "Max" Mosner Jr., general manager of the Timonium facility, said Pimlico/Laurel track operator Joe De Francis has proposed to develop Timonium as an off-track betting site.

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