"We don't claim from each other because we can't get any bargains that way," said trainer Richard Delp, brother and trainer for Buddy Delp. He responded to a column in the Washington Post yesterday that said Delp and two other trainers on the Maryland racing circuit -- Dick Dutrow and King Leatherbury -- have an agreement not to claim horses from each other.

The column, by Andrew Beyer, also said the stewards at the Maryland race tracks were lax in enforcing a rule that prohibits agreements regarding the claiming of horses.

"We three get away with nothing nobody else gets away with," Delp continued. "Each of the three is too good a horseman."

Leatherbury said, "I get more fines than any other trainer. If there were only one powerful stable, that could be called inequality. But since there are three, one balances off the other.

"The stewards have no special interest in helping the big stables. When they can't fill the races, the racing secretary, Larry Abbundi, will call and give us hell. We help him fill those races. The secret to our success is that we run (the horses) where they belong."

Dutrow had no comment regarding the column, nor did the state steward, J. Fred Colwill.