If Tiznow, Captain Steve and Albert the Great don't tickle your fancy, what does Include do for your senses?
With a dearth of scintillating thoroughbreds racing in this country, the opportunity exists for a horse to emerge as the new star. Trained by the dapper Grover G. "Bud" Delp, Include could take the first steps toward stardom today in the $500,000 New Orleans Handicap at the Fair Grounds.
A Maryland-bred son of Broad Brush and Illeria, Include will make his second start of 2001 in the Grade II stakes. His first start was smashing, a two-length victory Feb. 11 in the Whirlaway Handicap, also at the Fair Grounds.
Delp transferred 28 horses last fall from Laurel Park to the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Most were bred and owned by Robert E. Meyerhoff, including the talented 4-year-old. For today's race, Delp hired Jerry Bailey, one of the country's top jockeys, to ride Include.
Asked whether he thought Include could become a top handicap horse, Delp said: "It's too premature to say that yet. He hasn't even won a graded stakes."
Include won four straight races last year before finishing sixth as the favorite in the Pennsylvania Derby. After the race, Delp discovered a pulled muscle in Include's right hind leg and gave him five months between races. His Whirlaway victory was all the more impressive because of the lengthy layoff.
"We're going to take it one race at a time," Delp said.
Another potential star from the Delp-Meyerhoff team, Concerned Minister, underwent surgery to remove bone chips from his right foreleg and won't return to training until June, Delp said.
Delp's Fair Grounds excursion has been compromised by injuries to horses and excessively cold and rainy weather. Despite nominating four 3-year-olds to the Triple Crown series, Delp said, "none of them are going to come close to that."
He'll bring his operation back to Laurel Park later this month. He said that he and his runners will be settled in by the time Pimlico opens March 28.
Elder Tammaro missing
John Tammaro Jr., 75, a leading trainer in Maryland in the 1960s and 1970s, has been missing in South Florida since leaving Gulfstream Park in his old Mercedes about 9 a.m. last Sunday.
"We're really mystified by the situation," said Andrew Casper, spokesman for the Hallandale Beach, Fla., police department.
John Tammaro III, one of Tammaro's sons and a trainer at Bowie, flew to Florida last week from his home in Howard County.
"I don't know what to tell you," he said. "As of Sunday morning, nobody's talked to him."
Police and family members have searched restaurants, checked hospitals and driven the route he would have taken home. The elder Tammaro underwent recent liver surgery and wasn't in the best of health.
Casper said that anyone with information about Tammaro should call the Hallandale Beach police department at 954-457-1400.
Along the rail
Lou Raffetto Jr., Maryland Jockey Club chief executive, said he plans on asking the Maryland Racing Commission to approve a halt in live racing here June 10-July 14 so that thoroughbreds can run at Colonial Downs.
He'll make the request at the commission's meeting in Timonium on March 28.
At the close of its regular meeting that day, the racing commission will reconvene the hearing on whether to grant a license to Bill Rickman Jr. and his father for building a horse track in Allegany County. The commission has set aside three consecutive days for completing the hearing.
Raffetto-inspired changes to the Laurel condition book have resulted in increased field sizes that average one-half horse per race. Georganne Hale, racing secretary, has consolidated conditions and spaced out races so there's a practical rhythm to the schedule. The 103 entries today are by far the most of any day this year.
Racing officials also have begun addressing the scheduling of stakes races. The Marshua Stakes for 3-year-old fillies was canceled today, because the trainers of only two horses showed interest.
Charles Town on Thursday, Aqueduct yesterday, and even Laurel last weekend ran conflicting stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
Scott Lake continues to lead the nation's trainers in wins with 75 through February. Dale Capuano ranked second with 46. Lake was also second in earnings behind Bob Baffert.
Although three Maryland jockeys finished in the top five nationally last year, only Ramon Dominguez won enough races (53) in the first two months of 2001 to rank in the riders' top 10. Kris Prather, the 22-year-old apprentice sensation at Turfway Park, topped the standings with 86 wins.
Xtra Heat was going to run today in the Marshua. Now she'll seek her 11th win in 12 starts March 25 in the $100,000 Cicada Stakes at Aqueduct.
Disco Rico, third in the General George Handicap, may turn up in any number of races, said his trainer, Valora Testerman. He may contest the MATCH series, and Testerman said she has a distant eye on the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Romping winner of last weekend's Herat Stakes, Marciano may run in the Gotham Stakes on March 18 at Aqueduct, the Rebel Stakes on March 24 at Oaklawn Park or the Private Terms Stakes on March 31 at Laurel.
"He'll tell me where he wants to go his next race," said his trainer, Tim Ritchey.
After two overpowering victories at Laurel, Richly Blended also may attempt the Gotham. His Belmont-based trainer, Ben Perkins Jr., said that since the colt's pedigree (Rizzi-Valid Blend, by Valid Appeal) screams speed, he'll probably limit his scope to prestigious but shorter races such as the Lafayette Stakes at Keeneland and Derby Trial at Churchill Downs.
After showing Tiger Woods around the Godolphin Racing operation last week in Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed named a promising 2-year-old Storm Cat colt after the golfer: Dubai Tiger. Woods was in the Middle East preparing for this weekend's Dubai Desert Classic.