Labor dispute in Paris could affect Turf Festival

A possible labor strike in Paris by cargo employees of Air France could affect the fields for this weekend's International Turf Festival at Laurel Race Course.

Two flights of horses -- one originating from Paris, the other from London -- are scheduled to arrive at New York-area airports late today carrying runners for the Turf Festival races.


But the horses on the Paris flight might be re-routed through Brussels, Belguim, or Amsterdam, the Netherlands, if the labor action occurs.

"Right now, we're not certain what's going to happen. But if the strike takes place, we could be affected," said Timothy Capps, vice president of communications at Laurel/Pimlico, who oversees the foreign entrants.


Capps said Air France is the only air cargo service flying horses out of Paris. "It's an expensive proposition for the owners of these horses, anyway, and if another hurdle is put in their path, who knows what they'll do?"

Five horses -- three from the yard of Andre Fabre and one each from trainers John Hammond and Claude Laffun-Parlas -- could be on the Paris flight.

The London flight, chartered by Federal Express, is not affected. Inchinor, from the stable of Roger Charlton, is expected to ship to Laurel for the International Mile, Capps said. Less definite are Sharp Prod, whose trainer is Lord Huntingdon, and Alhijaz, from the John Dunlop yard.

Capps said he will know more about the situation today.

Meanwhile, American trainers are making Turf Festival commitments.

Trainer Leo O'Brien said Fourstars Allstar will run in the International Mile, but his stablemate, Fourstardave, is doubtful if the turf is soft. Jose Santos will ride Fourstars Allstar.

New York-based Weesan scratched out of the Tidal Handicap at Belmont Park yesterday and will run instead Sunday in the Laurel Turf Cup. He will be ridden by Herb McCauley.