Woody Stephens, the trainer of Quadratic, obviously doesn't like money. He decided to keep the talented 2-year-old colt in his barn at Belmont Park in New York rather than ship him to Charles Town, W. Va., for Saturday night's 16th running of the $65,200 Tri-State Futurity.
"Quadratic is coughing," was the official explanation given by Stephens. But it followed a series of "maybes" as to the colt's status, making track officials suspicious as to just how serious the trainer's intentions ever were. Then again, the owner had reserved space for 40 guests in the clubhouse dining room, so who knows?
With Quadratic out of the seven-furlong sprint, the names of 10 juveniles bred in West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland were entered yesterday morning for the Tri-State. Misty Malarky, the probable favorite, became a shorter price after drawing the rail. Antiquarian, owned by the Redskins' Pat Fischer, will scoot out of Post 6 as a longshot. The second choice in the betting could be North Quest, a maiden.
Quadratic would have been 1 to 1,000,000 to take first money of $52,000. The Cowdin and Playpen Stakes victor was good enough to be within 3 1/2 lengths of Alydar and Affirmed at the finish of the recent Champagne Mile at Belmont.
"I was going to run Misty Malarky, no matter whether Quadratic came down or not," trainer Willie O'Neill declared. "He'd have been outstanding, of course, but he'd never run under the lights at night or over such a small track, so we'd have tried him."
O'Neill lives near Middleburg, Va. He trains for Mrs. Fritz Howard of Meadowville Farm.
"I gave up Safeway to become a professional trainer seven years ago," O'Neill said. "Training had been a hobby for me, while I was with the food chain. Now I have 12 horses. Misty Malarky has shown ability. This is my first big race so, naturally, I'm nervous going in."
Misty Malarky has won three of four starts, including a 10-length success in which she ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:20 4/5 at Charles Town Oct. 11. The filly also has scored at Bowie, after throwing Tommy Lee twice, fracturing the jockey's pelvis.
"Her only loss was at Delaware park this summer," O'Neill recalled. "She got off a little bad that afternoon and finished fourth. But she was in with some awfully good fillies. Itsamaza was first and Danger Bearing second."
Larry Depuy has the mount on Misty Malarky in the Tri-State. This is a big, strong filly possessing good early speed. The charge to the first turn will be a hair-raising spectacle, once again. If Malarky survives that, her nine rivals probably will discover the favorite is very much for real.
Completing the field are Gay Old Blade, Gay Har Ru, Bluegrass Music, Dilry, Last White Hope, Fight For Gold and Restless Legs. Post time is 10:50 p.m. Rarely does thoroughbred racing offer so much so late in the day.