Three years ago, Dick Dutrow changed his training philosophy and left Maryland to try New York's lucrative racing circuit. It was a gamble; Dutrow for years was among the state's elite trainers, well-established even before 1975 when he became the first Marylander to win a national training title in 58 years.

Today, he has none of the 12 horses he took north, but he isn't sorry. He's replaced them with 55 high-class runners and brought one of them, Talakeno, to Laurel for Saturday's $750,000 Washington, D.C. International.

"The claiming game didn't interest me anymore," he said yesterday morning at Laurel. "I went to New York because I wanted to try to get some better horses and develop them."

From a business perspective, the transition was remarkably smooth. In 1986, he finished among the top three trainers at Aqueduct's spring and winter meetings, and his success helped son Tony establish a stable of his own. But the elder Dutrow had difficulty adapting to his new life style.

"The first year was scary," he said. "I realized that in New York you can get hurt, you can get lost. It's home to me now, but I still watch myself.

"And there were a lot of changes I had to make as far as training. For one, you've got to be more patient. When a claiming horse is going bad, you can just drop him a notch or two; but with the higher-quality horses you've got to be more patient. You've got to do something extra to get that breeding out of him if you want to keep that outfit."

He has gotten three victories and $340,308 out of Talakeno this year. The 7-year-old son of Vaguely Noble peaked in August at Saratoga, winning the Bernard Baruch (by a half-length over turf champion Manila) and Budweiser Breeders' Cup handicaps in successive starts. He finished third and fourth in his last two races, both on soft grass courses at Belmont.

"If you get him on those firm kind of courses, he can run with the best of them; he'll run his heart out for you," Dutrow said. "When it's deep and soft, he doesn't like it."

Talakeno worked five furlongs on Laurel's firm turf course in 1:01 4/5 under Vince Bracciale Jr. Angel Cordero Jr. is to ride him in the International.

"He's easy to train," Dutrow said. "He may not give you the great work{out} like people think he'd give you, but he does enough to get by with some extra kick in the afternoon."

By finishing fourth or better Saturday, Talakeno would pass $1 million in lifetime earnings.

Cockney Lass, one of three females preentered in the International, was withdrawn because of a fever. The Irish filly will be replaced by Canada's Grey Classic, who will run as an entry with Blue Finn. Laurel officials will draw International post positions this morning.

Regal Classic, the dominant pre-entry in Sunday's Laurel Futurity, will not run in the $250,000 race, track vice president Bob Manfuso confirmed.

Trained in Canada by James Day, Regal Classic has won three stakes races in four tries -- he ran second in his debut -- and earned $316,903. Manfuso said the 2-year-old son of Vice Regent is being pointed for the Breeders' Cup Nov. 21.

The Futurity, along with the Selima Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, will be on turf for the first time . . .

Greg Hutton did not ride yesterday as part of a seven-day suspension that will run through Sunday. Hutton, with three victories in 17 tries, was suspended for allowing Spring Formal to drift in and impede Chapter Two in Laurel's fourth race Thursday.