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Delp, Small aren't sold on Arazi, yet Favorite still is largely untried, Maryland ex-Derby trainers say


The last person to train a Kentucky Derby favorite who won isn't convinced that Arazi will repeat the feat today in the 118th running at Churchill Downs.

Maryland-based Buddy Delp had Spectacular Bid in his charge in 1979 when the horse went off at 3-5 odds and won by 2 3/4 lengths over General Assembly.

"He [Arazi] could win, but this is a tough way to go to do it," Delp said yesterday. "He's had only one race since the Breeders' Cup [last November] and the time was moderate. He's going to have to be a super special horse."

Delp said there is no superstar among the current American crop of 3-year-olds, but said Technology and A.P. Indy can beat Arazi over 1 1/4 miles.

"To me, it's a wide-open race," he said. "Technology has credentials and A.P. Indy has done everything asked of him."

In Delp's opinion, the No. 18 post position should not hurt Arazi because "there is a quarter of a mile to position him. He's better off than being inside at one, two or three because I think he'd have a lot of dirt hitting him in there. Some people say he could run on the outside fence and beat this field."

Fellow Maryland trainer Dick Small also knows the trials and tribulations of preparing a horse for the Derby. He had Broad Brush in 1986 when he ran third to Ferdinand.

Like Delp, Small will have to see it happen.

"He'll have to sort of show me he can do it," Small said of Arazi. "An awful lot of people who know a lot about horses say he's the best in a long time.

"The one thing that would concern me is that 3-year-olds get bigger and stronger over the winter and they say he hasn't done that. It's probably the reason he hasn't raced too much."

But European trainers race their horses lightly as a matter of course.

Small agreed with Delp that the outside post is not that unfavorable because "there is a terribly big charge out of the gate and he might be better off. There are always four or five horses who don't belong and it's pretty hard to win that race from the front."

Arazi's record of eight wins in nine starts is not lost on Small.

"It's pretty hard to say he caught all bad fields," he said. "He must be a hell of a horse, but this race is not a gimme."

Neither trainer says the hoopla surrounding the race will trouble the horse.

"The horses are well-protected from it," said Small. "They can handle it. It's the people with him who have the problem, particularly if you have a favorite."

Delp agreed, saying: "I read that Sonny [Hine, trainer of Technology] forgot what day it was the other day. That didn't surprise me. Those things happen down there [in Louisville]."

* The live Pimlico Race Course feature today is the $75,000 Riggs Handicap, a Grade III stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Rainbows For Life is 7-for-12 on grass and the overnight favorite at 3-1. Futurist, winner of four of his past five, also will attract considerable play.

* Eight entries yesterday drew into next Saturday's feature, the $700,000 Pimlico Special. Included was Best Pal, unbeaten this year.

NOTES: As part of the Preakness festivities, the public will be permitted to watch morning workouts from 6 to 9 a.m. from May 12 to 15, then may tour the Pimlico barn area. A Preakness celebration pin, which can be purchased at the Hayward Avenue grandstand for $2, is needed for admittance. . . . Post time for today's 13-race card is noon, an hour earlier than usual because of the Kentucky Derby simulcast. . . . Frank Douglas returned to riding yesterday after taking a spill Thursday. . . . Full sisters nearly pulled off victories in separate races yesterday. Eager N Crafty did her part, winning the first race, but Crafty N Eager was overtaken in the stretch by Dame's Rocket in the fourth and finished second. Both are by Eager Native out of Jeanie K. . . . Rosecroft harness track is offering the Miller Memorial eliminations tonight for both colts and fillies. The top four colts in two heats and top three fillies in three heats return in a week to race in the finals.

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