Rain dilutes Vanlandingham Scratches expected; race taken off turf

Rain is playing havoc with East Coast racing cards, forcing the cancellation of yesterday's program at Belmont Park and causing numerous scratches today in the Vanlandingham Stakes Pimlico Race Course.

The Vanlandingham originally was carded at a mile on the turf, but has been switched to 1 1/16th miles on the main track.


Jerry Robb, who won the race in 1989 with Robyn Dancer, trains this year's lukewarm choice, the triple stakes-placed colt Run Alden, who is a three-quarter brother to Little Bold John.

But Robb said yesterday he probably will scratch unless the colt's owner, Hal Clagett, insists that he run.


"I'm pointing my horse for the Maryland Million [the Nursery at 7 furlongs] and I'm afraid if I run this colt today at 1 1/16th miles around two turns, I'd really knock him out," Robb said. "He's never been farther than 5 1/2 furlongs, so it would be a lot to ask of him. If he did run, he wouldn't be on top of his game for the Maryland Million [at Laurel on Oct. 9]."

Other expected scratches are Nick Zito-trained Sulton of Java, who was expected to ship in from Belmont Park; Delaware Park invader Executive Decree; and Three Timer and Spartan Victory, who already were taken out of the race at scratch time yesterday.

The Vanlandingham was first carded six years ago to serve as a prep for the Laurel Futurity and has been won twice by Hall of Fame trainers. Woody Stephens won the inaugural running in 1988 with Ringerman, and Mack Miller scored with Rokeby Stable's Share the Glory in 1990.

Four of the five Vanlandingham winners subsequently finished second or third in the Futurity, although none won it. Last year's Vanlandingham winner, Storm Flight, broke down just a couple of days before the Futurity.

Today's supporting feature, the $25,000 Debby's Turn Stakes, is also losing its favorite, the heavy choice Smart'n Noble. Trainer Dick Delp will run her tomorrow in the $50,000 Queen Empress Stakes instead. "I'd rather the race [the Queen Empress] stay on the grass because my filly has won on the turf," Delp said. "But we'll go no matter what."

Smart'n Noble has won her past three starts, all in stakes. She was purchased by Pat Nickel and her two sons, Steve and Stewart Nickel, of Timonium last year for $18,500 as a yearling. Like Run Alden, Smart'n Noble is also being pointed for the Maryland Million and will go in the Lassie for 2-year-old fillies.

Theft being probed

Pimlico Race Course officials are investigating a theft that occurred at the track last Sunday night, when approximately $2,200 was taken from several voucher-selling machines.


Customers use the machines to purchase betting vouchers for use in the automatic teller devices.

Jim Mango, Pimlico/Laurel senior vice president of pari-mutuels and development, said the machines apparently were not tampered with, but were opened by keys normally available only to money room and totalisator company personnel. Officials said the theft probably occurred about 10 p.m., after the last simulcast race from Del Mar had been completed.

The robbery is the third at the tracks in the past year. Last December, $55,000 in cash was stolen at Pimlico, and that robbery is still unsolved.

During the summer of 1992, $80,000 was reported missing from the track's money room. A former head cashier at Pimlico/Laurel confessed to stealing the money and is serving 18 months of a suspended 10-year sentence in the Anne Arundel County Detention Center.