02/12/2007 12:00AM

Roman lets IEAH off the hook

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Bettors who pounded Lawrence the Roman to 1-2 favoritism in Saturday's Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct had to rip up their tickets when the colt finished fifth. But part-owners IEAH Stables and Sanford Robbins were afforded a refund by the colt's original owner, Lawrence Roman.

Two days before Lawrence the Roman ran in the Whirlaway, Roman sold half-interest in the New York-bred colt to the International Equine Acquisitions Holdings Stable and Robbins. Two days later, Roman let IEAH and Robbins out of the deal, wiring their money back by noon on Monday.

Undefeated in his first three starts, Lawrence the Roman spit the bit early on down the backside and never factored in the Whirlaway, finishing 14 lengths behind Summer Doldrums.

"I was very disappointed the way the horse ran," Roman said Monday. "I thought he was going to win; [trainer] Rick Dutrow thought the horse was going to win easily. Fortunately, in my life, I don't need money that badly. I didn't want sour partners. They didn't call me - they didn't ask for it. I called them and said, 'Let me wire the money back.' They were very, very appreciative. The whole thing happened so fast. I don't like to even be in that situation. I would always prefer to sell my horse after the race."

IEAH and Robbins have horses with Dutrow and purchased the horse based on the trainer's recommendation. They had the horse examined by a veterinarian and had representatives in attendance last Thursday when the horse breezed three furlongs in 36.85 seconds at Aqueduct.

"Larry's proven himself to us to be upstanding, and we look forward to doing another deal or partnering up with him in the future," said Mike Sherack, vice president of investor relations for IEAH. "It wasn't us crying foul, it was Larry saying this didn't work out the way we envisioned or hoped."

Dutrow said he could find no physical excuse for Lawrence the Roman's performance.

Lawrence the Roman wore front bandages for the first time in the Whirlaway. Dutrow said he used the bandages because the horse burned his heels a bit in his second-to-last breeze before the race, but he wasn't using that as an excuse.

"When they run like that, something ain't right, but I don't see it,'' Dutrow said. "I'll train him and see how things are. I'll look for the safest, easiest spot."