07/30/2002 11:00PM

The most infamous pin in history


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Affirmed was the last Triple Crown winner, 24 years ago. That should probably read "Spectacular Bid, 23 years ago" but judge for yourself as Bud Delp recalls "the greatest horse ever to look through a bridle."

Delp, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame here Monday morning, had saddled Spectacular Bid to relatively decisive victories in the 1979 Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. On the morning of the Belmont he arrived at the barn at 6 o'clock and the groom spoke only two words: "He's lame."

"Bid was a pin-picker," Delp noted the other day. "He loved to pick the pins that held his leg bandages in place. We solved that problem by covering the pins with tape and coating the tape with red pepper, but in the excitement over the Triple Crown that step was missed that day.

"It was the right front foot and he couldn't put it down," Delp said. "He was lame all right. He'd stepped on a pin that he pulled and it had gone into the foot about half an inch. I pulled the pin and in a short time, the lameness disappeared. I called Harry Meyerhoff and told him what happened. A decision would be made in early afternoon."

Spectacular Bid seemed comfortable, and though there had been a Triple Crown winner the year before, there was considerable sentiment in favor of another. The word was "go." Bid had two huge hurdles to clear. Ronnie Franklin, who rode him, used the gray horse prematurely, squandering his reserve by chasing a longshot.

In addition, the injured foot must have been bothering him. He never changed leads and Coastal was the upset winner.

"We brought Bid back to Delaware Park," Delp said, "and we waited a week to see what kind of problem we had. Dr. Alex Harthill flew up to treat him and found a pocket of infection in the foot. Once it was penetrated the pressure was gone and Bid was himself again. Jack Reynolds, the blacksmith, flew from Missouri to fit him with a thin aluminum plate to cover the half-inch cut in the hoof made to locate the infection. Bid was able to jog, gallop and then breeze. When he worked six furlongs in 1:10 and three-fifths I knew he was ready."

Seventy-eight days after the Belmont, Bid ran at Delaware and won a 1 1/16-mile allowance race. Bill Shoemaker was in the irons for the first time as Bid set a track record, winning by 17 lengths. He followed up by beating older horses in the Marlboro Cup, which he won by five lengths.

If he was superb at 3, Spectacular Bid was perfect at 4, winning all nine of his starts, including a walkover in the Woodward Stakes. He retired with a record of 26 victories from 30 starts and earnings of almost $2.8 million, a nice return on the $37,000 Meyerhoff and his son Tommy paid for him at Keeneland.

Delp, who trained the winners of more than 3,500 races, has many notable achievements to his credit. Under his direction, Dispersal and Sunny Sunrise both won more than $1 million for Harry and Tom Meyerhoff.

He won countless stakes for E.P. Taylor's Windfields Farm with Truly Bound, Northern Sea, and the Kentucky Oaks winner Sweet Alliance, and for 38 years produced numerous good horses for Jim and Nancy Bayard.

Include has been an outstanding stakes winner for Robert Meyerhoff and will attempt to add to his long list of credits in the upcoming Philip Iselin Stakes at Monmouth Park.

Delp's father drowned at a family picnic when he was 3. His mother remarried some years later with a veteran Maryland horseman, Ray Archer. Archer taught Delp the fundamentals of training and helped him get started in 1962. One year later, Delp was leading trainer at Delaware Park and on his way to well-deserved recognition with his election to racing's Hall of Fame.

Unveiling of a 'new' Mayakovsky

Mayakovsky, so brilliant at Saratoga last summer with a record-setting victory in his debut, will try to resume his winning ways Saturday in the $150,000 Amsterdam Stakes at six furlongs and will be ridden by Jerry Bailey. He has a new game plan, is taking aim at the Breeders' Cup Sprint this fall at Arlington Park, and trainer Patrick Biancone believes he is on the right track now.

"He hasn't started since the Santa Anita Derby in early April," Biancone said. "It became obvious he has distance limitations and a decision was made to take advantage of his natural speed.

"It takes time to change a horse's training. We thought we had an ideal spot for him in his new approach in the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs but heavy rains changed the picture," Biancone continued. "He's trained exceptionally well of late and we're looking forward to the first appearance of the new Mayakovsky in the Amsterdam."

Biancone may have shown us this year's Mayakovsky last week in the Sanford Stakes. Whywhywhy, impressive in winning last month's Flash Stakes at Belmont Park, earned greater stature with a stylish victory in the Sanford under Edgar Prado. Whywhywhy's margin of almost three lengths suggests a great deal of talent on the part of the Mr. Greeley colt Biancone purchased privately in Ocala, Fla., last January from the breeder, blacksmith James Jones.

Whywhywhy is owned by a partnership of Biancone and Fabien Ouaki, the owner of several department stores in Paris.

Biancone and Fabien Ouaki were boyhood friends in France and when Biancone started training, Ouaki's father was one of his first patrons.

Biancone saddled Bikala to win the 1981 French Derby for Ouaki. When Ouaki died, his son inherited the stable and started an American racing venture in partnership with Biancone.

Biancone has still another bright 2-year-old prospect in Zavata, a Phone Trick colt who won the Tremont Stakes at Belmont Park by more than six lengths. He is full of speed, and will be seen in next week's Saratoga Special.