In one of the most significant developments of the 12-day stalemate between the striking Maryland race-track employees and track management, trainer Grover (Buddy) Delp., leading conditioner at the just-concluded Bowie meeting with 55 wins, today shipped 63 of his horses to Hawthorne Park in Illinois.
Although Pimlico's stalls are still filled almost to capacity, the fear is that the Delp move is only first in what could be a mass migration.
"We have to move," said Richard Delp, Buddy's brother. "We don't have a product we can store and sell at a later date. Horses have to run and earn their keep. Owners have to pay from $18 to $26 a day. Their bills go on. We'll be back for Delaware."
Trainer Richard Dutrow, a perennial leader on the Maryland circuit, is considering making a similar move Monday. He would ship 30 horses to the Midwest. King Leatherbury, another trainer with a large stable, has been offered stall space in New York and Chicago.
Delp's move included 30 stablehands and exercise personnel. The estimated cost of the switch is $20,000 since the beginning of the year.
The strike by track employees who are represented by the Retail Store Employees Union, Local 692, was called March 12 at Bowie when negotiations broke down over base pay and family insurance coverage.
Pimlico was scheduled to open last Saturday.