LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Two Maryland-breds, the horse Cigar and the trainer Grover G. "Bud" Delp, have been elected to thoroughbred racing's Hall of Fame.
In an announcement yesterday at Churchill Downs, an official of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame named Cigar (contemporary male), Delp (trainer), Serena's Song (contemporary female), Noor (horse of yesteryear) and Jack Westrope (jockey) for induction Aug. 5 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
"What can I say? It doesn't get any better than this," Delp said by phone from Maryland. "This is the ultimate goal for any trainer. I'm just ecstatic about it."
Delp, 69, gained national prominence with the dark gray Spectacular Bid, whom he trained to championships in three consecutive years. The colt was champion 2-year-old male in 1978, champion 3-year-old male in 1979 (winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness) and champion older horse and Horse of the Year in 1980 (winning all nine of his races).
In 1980, Delp won the Eclipse Award as outstanding trainer.
Based at Laurel Park, Delp has trained 68 stakes-winning horses and won 3,533 races (21 percent of his 17,121 starts). His horses have earned $37.5 million.
Delp has been leading trainer once at Hawthorne and Arlington Park, three times at Monmouth Park, seven times at Pimlico and 10 times at Delaware Park.
Cigar, two-time Horse of the Year, was born in April 1990 at Country Life Farm near Bel Air. He became one of the most celebrated horses of recent times by winning 16 straight races, matching the modern-day record of Citation.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime honor to have delivered a horse of that caliber," said Josh Pons, whose family owns Country Life Farm.
When Cigar retired in 1996, his many fans looked forward to watching his babies race. But the dominant thoroughbred proved infertile. He now resides for public viewing at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
Madeleine Paulson, whose late husband, Allen, bred and raced Cigar, said that Cigar's inability to breed was not as disappointing to her as one might think.
"It's as if God gave us the greatest racehorse of all time," she said, "and then said, `But you can never re-create him.' "
Buddha, winner of the Wood Memorial Stakes, arrived at Churchill Downs' Barn 48 about 10 a.m. yesterday after an all-night van ride from Belmont Park. H. James Bond, his trainer, led him into Stall 7. Bond's moniker is 007.
Asked whether that was a good omen, Bond said: "The gods of Kentucky are the ones in charge. As long as you bring a good horse, you've got a chance."
Breezy day in Louisville
Four Derby horses breezed at Churchill Downs: Ocean Sound, four furlongs in 47.20; Harlan's Holiday, four furlongs in 49.60; War Emblem, five furlongs in 1:00.40; and Essence of Dubai, five furlongs in 1:01.80.
Ken McPeek, trainer of Harlan's Holiday, said he was pleased with the workout, despite it being two seconds slower than the unheralded Ocean Sound's. Jockey Edgar Prado piloted Harlan's Holiday during the workout.
"He was a little aggressive going to the pole and a little hard for Edgar to handle," McPeek said. "I think that toned down his breeze a little bit."
Trainer Jim Cassidy was reserved about Ocean Sound's breeze despite its quickness.
"I still am not totally convinced he's getting a hold of the track as well as I'd like," Cassidy said.
`Drift' stays away
Perfect Drift, the Spiral Stakes winner, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 at the Trackside Training Center in Louisville.
The Dynaformer gelding will not van to Churchill Downs until Saturday morning, the day of the race.
No Oaks for Belterra
Carl Nafzger, trainer of Bob Manfuso's Belterra, said that he and Manfuso had decided not to run the filly in the Kentucky Oaks.
Nafzger said he doesn't believe Belterra is fully recovered from throat surgery for a breathing problem. She will be nominated to the Lone Star Derby May 11 at Lone Star Park and the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes May 17 at Pimlico, the trainer said.
The Oaks field
Here's the field for Friday's Oaks, in post position order with odds: Farda Amiga, 30-1; Habibti, 6-1; Take The Cake, 15-1; You, 7-2; Ms Brooksi, 30-1; Bella Bellucci, 3-1; Imperial Gesture, 4-1; Art Fair, 50-1; Take Charge Lady, 2-1; and Ile De France, 30-1.