Jockey Ronnie Franklin, who rode Spectacular Bid to victory in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness of 1979, flew to Baltimore this week from Louisiana and said he intends to ride in Maryland on a permanent basis.
Franklin was Pimlico's leading rider as an apprentice in 1978 with 119 winners over a 108-day spring-summer meeting. Bud Delp was his major patron at the time. Franklin had been riding regularly for Delp when that trainer moved to Lousiana more than four years ago.
Now Franklin says, "I'm here to stay."
Shortly after his excellent apprentice season and his two Triple Crown race victories, Franklin, now 25, was arrested for possession of cocaine. He also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of attempting to possess cocaine in 1982.
Efforts are being made to include a steeplechase race on the Maryland Million card next year. Sponsors for the jumpers never have been hard to get in the past, and the October date fits well between two classic jumping races, the New York Turf Writers Steeplechase and the Colonial Cup.
The idea is for makeshift hurdles to be erected and the race to be run on the outer part of the turf course. The hurdle race could be run as the 10th race.
My Dear Countess took the lead early in the stretch and turned back Racing Protege by three-quarters of a length in the $15,000 V Penny Purse at Pimlico yesterday.
The 4-year-old won her fourth race in nine starts this year, covering the six furlongs in 1:12 4/5 under apprentice Clarence Ladner.
Racing Protege, who finished a length before Need to Know, survived a claim of foul by John K. Adams, rider of Need to Know, for interference at the start.
My Dear Countess paid $7.60, $3.60 and $2.60; Racing Protege, $4.80 and $2.80; Need to Know, $2.40. The 6-2 exacta was worth $41.60.