Updated on 09/15/2011 1:29PM

Glory faded, hardly forgotten


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Just because Grover "Bud" Delp finally is running a horse at Churchill Downs again doesn't mean he will make a special trip down memory lane to 1979, when the trainer won the Kentucky Derby with the great Spectacular Bid.

Heck, Delp goes bounding down memory lane all the time. "I think about 1979 at least once a day," Delp said with a laugh.

On Friday, Include will run in the Clark Handicap and thus attempt to become the first stakes winner at Churchill for Delp since Spectacular Bid won the Derby. Although Delp's stable occasionally has been prominent at other Midwest tracks such as Fair Grounds, Arlington, and Keeneland since the glory years of Spectacular Bid, seldom has the trainer bothered to run many horses here.

"I guess I didn't have the right kind of horse for some of those races," Delp, 69, said Wednesday from his home in the Baltimore suburb of Ellicott City, Md. "This time, I think I've got the one."

*, bred and owned by Baltimore businessman and philanthropist Robert Meyerhoff, has developed into a top-flight handicap runner under Delp's care. A 4-year-old son of Broad Brush, who also was a Meyerhoff homebred, Include will be a solid favorite under Pat Day in the 127th running of the Clark.

Delp, in the familiar manner that became a trademark during prosperous times, strongly believes Include will live up to his advance billing in the Clark.

"He definitely is as good as he's ever been, in my opinion," he said. "He's training as good now as he has all year."

And that's pretty good. Include was a terror from February to June, reeling off wins in five straight handicaps: the Whirlaway, New Orleans, Jennings, Pimlico Special, and Massachusetts.

But then the colt finished third to Albert the Great and Lido Palace in the Suburban, a race that made Delp suspect something just wasn't right. Several days after returning home to Laurel Park, Include was diagnosed with what Delp called an agitated suspensory ligament in his right foreleg, precipitated by an earlier problem with a splint bone.

A series of electrical applications to the ligament at a Leesburg, Va., veterinary clinic was prescribed. "It was a very successful procedure," said Delp. "After the fourth time, they gave us a 100 percent go."

Include returned to action by finishing a close third as the favorite in the Sept. 28 Meadowlands Cup. "He got tired that night," said Delp. "The pace was kind of slow and it probably wasn't a true test for him, but he did close fast. I thought he ran real well."

Then came Belmont Park and the Oct. 27 Breeders' Cup Classic, in which Include raced well off the early pace and was never a factor, finishing seventh. Delp did not particularly care for the ride that John Velazquez gave him that day, saying the jockey failed to get him off the inside, which was widely believed to be the slower part of the track.

"I didn't think we had the best trip in the Breeders' Cup," said Delp.

With Day, Churchill's all-time leading jockey, named to ride Include in the Clark, Delp said he is not concerned about another bad trip. "I won't have to give Pat any instructions," he said. "This is a pretty good horse you can place almost anywhere you want."

The Clark will partly determine how Delp will plan out a 5-year-old campaign for Include. "We're not going to Fair Grounds or Florida with him," he said. "We'll bring him back to Laurel and keep him in training, at least keep his muscle tone by jogging him around the shed row in case there's inclement weather. It'll be a long year with a lot of races for him to run in, so we'll talk about all that later on."

Delp said he might not travel from Maryland for the race Friday. "I don't even saddle the colt," he said, adding that he leaves that duty to an assistant. "All I'd really be doing is telling Pat a few little things about the horse."

Even if Delp does make the trip, he won't be as outwardly cocky as he was on the afternoon of May 5, 1979, when he made the walk from the barn area to the paddock with Spectacular Bid for the 105th Kentucky Derby.

"I was so confident," he recalled. "I was telling everybody in the crowd, 'Go bet! Go bet!' They were all, 'Go Buddy, go get 'em, Mr. Delp!' I was waving like the race was over. I was actually nervous inside, because it was the Kentucky Derby."

Friday is merely the Clark Handicap, not the Derby. Delp will not be nervous. But he said he wouldn't mind Include creating a new memory for him at Churchill.

"It'd be nice to have a new one," he said.


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