LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The sloppy track at Churchill Downs yesterday prompted those flamboyant guys from New Orleans, trainer Louie Roussel III and horse owner Ron Lamarque, to scratch their colt, Kandaly, about 2 1/2 hours before post time for the Kentucky Derby.
The withdrawal of the late-running son of Alydar reduced the starters from 15 to 14, prompting a $61,281 refund to those who had wagered on him at Churchill Downs.
All week Roussel and Lamarque had added excitement to the Derby festivities. Lamarque sang some of a song he recorded called "Go Kandaly Go."
He made news recently when his estranged wife, Carmela, was convicted of conspiring to have him killed. Wednesday night he and Roussel threw a crawfish boil for 400 press and racing folks at the track, importing 2,000 pounds of the tiny crustaceans from Louisiana.
Yesterday, the partying over, Roussel said, "I have to do what's right for the horse. He's never been on an off track before. I have to keep him straight. There are six stops I want to make with this colt. I only got to make three of them with Risen Star. I want to go to the Haskell, the Travers and Breeders' Cup."
Roussel has never liked running his horses on wet tracks. He deliberated a long time in 1988 about scratching Risen Star from the Preakness after the colt was third in the Derby. Frank De Francis, then track operator at Pimlico Race Course, persuaded Roussel to run, and the horse won. Risen Star also won the Belmont, but was injured after that race and was retired.
Roussel is not expected to ship Kandaly to the Preakness. He believes the stretch-running style of the colt, who had won the Louisiana Derby in March, does not suit the sharp turns at Pimlico.
De Francis at the Derby
Pimlico/Laurel owner Joe DeFrancis predicted that the sloppy Derby track will result in a big field for the May 21 Preakness.
"Everyone that loses will have an excuse and will want to take on the Derby winner again on a fast track," De Francis said.
In addition to Silver Goblin, who was scheduled to arrive at Pimlico yesterday, De Francis expects Maryland owner Robert Meyerhoff to run Concern and possibly Looming, all of whom skipped the Derby.
Trainer Charlie Whittingham is shipping Derby Trial winner Numerous to Pimlico tomorrow. Derby runner-up Strodes Creek is expected to accompany Numerous.
De Francis flew to the Derby on Friday with Crown Central Petroleum chief executive officier Henry Rosenberg and his wife, Dot, and lawyer Sig Hyman, and his wife, Mary.
The group had dinner Friday night with Albert "Cubby" and Dana Broccoli, owners of Derby entry Brocco, and Broccoli's cousin, Jimmy D'Orta, a Baltimore physician who runs the emergency medical department at Franklin Square Hospital.
Chestertown native Kim Houghton Johnson escorted Brocco to the post in the Derby. She is married to Australian trainer, Murray Johnson, who has a stable of horses at Churchill Downs.
Other Marylanders at the Derby were: Chick Lang Sr., former Pimlico general manager, current Pimlico/Laurel executives Lenny Hale and Craig Sculos, the tracks' chief of publicity, and Robert Levy, who owns Muirfield Farm in Chesapeake City and has horses with Holy Bull's trainer, Jimmy Croll.
Md.-bred third on Derby card
Suspect Terrain, a stakes-winning mare bred in Maryland by Turney McKnight, finished third yesterday in the $75,000-added
Capitol Holdings Mile, the race preceding the Derby.
Art Preston, whose Prestonwood Farm owns the mare, said he had shipped her to Kentucky last month to run in grass races at Keeneland Race Course. "We'll keep her in Kentucky for turf racing this summer, and then we might shop her to Texas and run her at the new Sam Houston Park," Preston said.
Carlos Garcia formerly trained the mare at Laurel. Her current trainer is Patrick Byrne.
Preston said he still has a couple of horses in Maryland in training with Michael Dickinson at the Fair Hill Training Center.
Fisher wins Va. Gold Cup
Steeplechase fans in the press box at Churchill Downs switched on ESPN coverage yesterday of the Virginia Gold Cup and saw Maryland rider-trainer Jack Fisher win the four-mile timber race at The Plains, Va., with Saluter.
The victory capped a unique double for Fisher. Last weekend he rode Revelstoke to victory in the Maryland Hunt Cup.
Fisher won yesterday by six lengths over another Marylander, Johnny Bosley, on Joe's O.K.