Md. pair give nod to historic `Bid'

25 years later, Franklin, Delp relive glory, sign bobbleheads, autographs

Kentucky Derby notebook

April 26, 2004|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Bud Delp and Ronnie Franklin returned yesterday to Churchill Downs - 25 years after Spectacular Bid stormed to victory in the Kentucky Derby and nearly to a Triple Crown.

As guests of Churchill Downs, the Maryland residents met with reporters and signed autographs for fans. Earlier they signed Spectacular Bid bobbleheads that the track gave Saturday to some of its biggest bettors.

Asked how clearly he remembered Bid's 2 3/4 -length victory as the 3-5 Derby favorite, Delp said: "I remember like it was yesterday. You win the Derby, you don't forget it.

"I can almost remember days he worked, how much water he drank, how hard he was blowing [breathing], how many doughnuts he ate. I've trained horses for 41 years, and the three years I spent with Bid were the greatest three years of my life in racing."

The memory is different for Franklin. His success and ultimate disappointment with Spectacular Bid led to a 25-year struggle with drugs. After winning the Derby and Preakness with Bid, Franklin sent him after a hopeless long shot in the Belmont Stakes. Bid tired and finished third.

He had stepped on a safety pin overnight, and Delp told Franklin the morning of the race.

"I regret that to this day," Delp said. "I shouldn't have told Ronnie. I think he rode the race as if he was in a hurry to get it over with."

Franklin said knowing about the pin made him nervous, even more than he already was trying to win the Triple Crown.

"I'm probably harder on myself than anybody," Franklin said. "Now it's a little bit easier on me as far as not being shameful about it."

Franklin, 44, said he has been clean from drugs for two years. He still lives in Dundalk and works for Dave Cosner, a friend who owns Cos's Construction Co. Franklin said he does block and brick work.

Franklin and Delp flew together Saturday from Baltimore to Louisville. They traded memories of Spectacular Bid, perhaps the last great horse to race in the United States.

"Ronnie told me on the plane, `I'd like to do that again,'" Delp said. "I said, `I would, too, Ronnie.'"

Fashion hearings set

Seven jockeys have filed lawsuits seeking to overturn a Kentucky rule against wearing advertisements or a Jockeys' Guild patch on their clothing in time for the Kentucky Derby.

U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II has agreed to hear the two cases today in separate hearings.

On April 16, Robby Albarado, Brian Peck and Shane Sellers filed suit for the right to wear a patch for the Guild, which represents jockeys. Three days ago, Jerry Bailey, Jose Santos, Sellers, Alex Solis and John Velazquez filed suit for the right to wear advertising on their trousers.

The jockeys, six of whom have mounts in the Derby, contend the rule restricts their right of free speech. Bill Street, chairman of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, said in a statement the authority believes patches and advertising violate "the tradition of the turf. ... It is prepared to deal severely with any challenge to this interpretation."

Flying start

The trainers of Castledale and St Averil said yesterday that they had decided to fly the colts to Kentucky for the Derby after satisfactory workouts Saturday. Castledale won the Santa Anita Derby, and St Averil finished sixth.

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