Royal Roberto won Laurel's opening-day feature, the $60,000-added Laurel Turf Cup, by more than three lengths yesterday under a snug hold by jockey Jeff Fell.
The victory by the 3-year-old son of Roberto caused talk that he would be invited to compete in the Washington, D.C. International Nov. 6.
Laurel President John D. Schapiro wasn't so sure. "We thought that Royal Roberto ran a good race and we'll probably ask Mr. Iselin (trainer James H. Iselin) to keep his colt in training," he said. "Maybe we can see our way to inviting him. But don't forget, we have an outstanding field for the International this year and we are not going to be carried away by one race."
"We'd like to get invited," Iselin said. "That's why we came. The colonel (82-year old Mitchell Wolfson of Florida) deserves to see one of his horses run in the International."
Royal Roberto was allowed to lag in the 1 1/2-mile race, then came around several horses on the stretch turn for his third victory on turf. Uncle Jeff led in midstretch but proved no match for the brown colt. Fell called him, "the best horse today. He simply left them."
The running time over a firm course was 2:27 4/5.
"What a day," Ken Schertle, Laurel's general manager, said of the opening card, "We started with a water shortage when one of the pipes that feeds the trucks fouled up; we had some labor problems; and the track programs, one of the most important ingredients for a successful day, didn't get delivered to the track until minutes before post time. Other than that, I had a fine day."
Attendance of 7,491 was up slightly and the $941,962 bet was off slightly from last year's opener.