Viv's victory could start 'Triple' play Meyerhoff colt runs to win in $54,100 Herat Stakes

March 03, 1996|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Could the Meyerhoff-Delp team be back in the national eye? A horse named Viv could make it so.

In his first attempt around two turns, the Harry and Tom Meyerhoff-owned Viv out-dueled a game Mixed Count yesterday and won the $54,100 Herat Stakes at Laurel Park.

The margin after 1 1/16 miles was a half-length, possibly putting Viv on the Triple Crown trail traveled by the Meyerhoffs' Spectacular Bid 17 years ago.

Harry Meyerhoff said he and trainer Buddy Delp "do have Triple )) Crown intentions and we'll just have to be patient and see how he develops."

Delp guided Spectacular Bid through victories in the 1979 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, but the horse lost in the Belmont and the result was blamed on a pin discovered in one of his hooves.

The even-money favorite in a field of seven, Viv and third choice Mixed Count battled throughout the race, exchanging the lead twice while setting slow fractions.

Winning jockey Mark Johnson said Viv "has so much class that having another horse along his side doesn't bother him at all. It actually kept his mind on his business. This horse does a lot of looking around and he's still a little immature, but there is room for improvement. He'll keep getting better."

Red-hot Edgar Prado, who had four winners yesterday, kept Mixed Count, another Triple Crown nominee, inside Viv all the way.

"There was no reason to get off the rail," said Prado. "We got the lead or real close to the lead but we couldn't hold him [Viv] off."

Viv is only 2-for-5 but has not been worse than second since his initial race, when he was bumped and lost momentum. He is named after a Meyerhoff friend from England, and yesterday's win marked his first stakes victory.

"He raced without blinkers the first time and we put them on the next time [when he broke his maiden]," Delp said of Viv. "Each race is better than the one before and now he has some seasoning."

The fractions of 24 3/5 for the quarter mile, 49 1/5 for the half and 1:13 4/5 for six furlongs were extremely slow.

But Delp was encouraged because Viv "ran in 24 down the lane [last quarter] and now we see that he can run a distance."

Viv's next start may be in Aqueduct's Gotham Mile on March 30.

NOTES: Best Pal, California's all-time leading money winner, made a farewell appearance yesterday before the Santa Anita Handicap in California. Golden Eagle Farm retired the gelding a month ago after 18 wins and earnings of $5,668,245 in 47 starts over six years. Best Pal ran fourth in the 1992 Pimlico Special as the favorite. . . . Jockey Jesus Bracho was suspended seven days after a disqualification last Sunday, but appealed and will continue to ride pending a hearing. . . . J. David Rollinson has been appointed stakes coordinator for Laurel Park and Pimlico. He will continue to work as a placing and patrol judge.

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