Ron Franklin's future as the rider of Spectacular Bid remained in doubt today after his dismal performance in the Florida Derby Tuesday.
Owner Harry Meyerhoff and trainer Bud Delp were still pondering whether to replace the teen-ager after he got his horse blocked twice and committed numerous errors of judgment in the $200,000 event at Gulfstream Park. Spectacular Bid managed to overcome the jockey's difficulties to win by 4 1/2 lengths.
Delp lashed out at his jockey immediately after the race, calling him an idiot and saying, "If Bill Shoemaker called me (about riding the horse) I wouldn't hang up on him." But yesterday Delp directed his anger more toward the other jockeys in the race than at Franklin.
"Yesterday's race is history," the trainer said. "I'm not criticizing Ronnie until the next time he makes a mistake. And we all make mistakes."
Delp said that Franklin had been intimidated by Angel Cordero Jr. when he attempted to drive Spectacular Bid inside Cordero's mount, Fantasy 'n r/eality, on the first turn. Franklin had to check his horse, and Delp charged that Cordero was deliberately trying to hurt Spectacular Bid. Moreover, he suggested, Cordero was probably conspiring with Jorge Velasqueez, who rode Spectacular Bid twice last fall before Franklin was reinstated on the horse.
Velasquez rode Spectacular Bid badly and "that's the reason he was taken off the horse," Delp said, "Velasquez and Cordero are not classy guys. They're messing with a great horse. They are buddies. They work together. They could have hurt this horse."
In fact, it was neither Cordero nor Velasquez who caused Spectacular Bid his greatest trouble After the colt had passed Cordero's mount, he hugged the rail and charged down the backstretch toward the leaders. But he could not get past them, because Jeffrey Fell aboard the pacesetter, Musical Phantasy, would not let him through on the rail. Franklin was forced to check again.
Delp cast no blame on Fell, whom he said rode a super race.
Like his rider. he chose to believe in a Latin conspiracy.
Delp said that the decision on Franklin's future was in the hands of Meyerhoff, who returned to Maryland after the Florida Derby.