They played the West German national anthem after yesterday's Washington, D.C. International, but the lyrics should have been altered to "Pincay Uber Alles."
For it was Laffit Pincay Jr.'s cool, flawless ride that brought Le Glorieux his narrow victory in the 36th and richest running of Laurel's most famous race.
If Pincay had made even one small mistake, or had failed to save ground on both turns, Maryland's sensational 17-year-old jockey Kent Desormeaux would have won on the front-running American long shot Great Communicator. But Pincay managed to get Le Glorieux through on the rail to win the $750,000 event by a neck. Motley was third, a nose in front of Stately Don.
Le Glorieux covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:02 4/5. He paid $6.40 as the favorite of the crowd of 20,654.
The most ballyhooed horse in the field, the Soviet Union's Gjatsk, never got into contention. "He was not in the same class as these horses," jockey Marat Kojomzharov conceded after Gjatsk struggled home in 13th place, 17 lengths behind the winner. It was a bad day all around for the Eastern bloc: Poland's Omen finished 11th. And another Soviet horse, Star, was trounced in a lesser handicap race.
The winning horse is a true internationalist. His owners, Werner and Sieglinde Wolf, are German, but the colt himself is a son of the former Maryland star Cure The Blues, who began his stud career in Ireland. Le Glorieux was bred in England and is trained in France by Robert Collet.
The 3-year-old wasn't considered a top horse abroad. He couldn't beat stakes horses in France, and scored his only victories when he shipped to Germany to run against somewhat inferior competition. But when he came to the United States and finished second in the Man o' War Stakes at Aqueduct last weekend, he earned the favorite's role in a weak International field.
Before the race, Collet told Pincay to put the colt in third or fourth place in the early stages of the International. Indeed, that would have been a good spot to be. Unfortunately, the horse wouldn't cooperate. "He just didn't seem to be willing to go," Pincay said. "Going into the first turn I was way behind, and I said: 'What the hell am I doing back here?' "
While Le Glorieux dropped far out of contention, Great Communicator and the English colt Risk Me raced head and head for the lead, five lengths in front of the field, setting an honest pace: the first quarter-mile in 23 2/5 seconds, the half-mile in :46 3/5. When Risk Me gave up, Motley shot up the rail to make a challenge for the lead. But he couldn't get through cleanly, and jockey Cash Asmussen steadied him, losing his momentum at a crucial moment. That left Great Communicator with a clear lead as the field turned for home. And Le Glorieux still didn't seem to be going anywhere.
The favorite had been some 17 lengths behind in midrace and, as he straightened into the stretch, he still had half a dozen horses in front of him. Pincay had made the best of a bad situation, trying to save ground on the turns. Having done so, he had to hope that he would find running room on the rail in the stretch.
Pincay steered Le Glorieux around one horse, the tiring Risk Me, in the early part of the stretch run, then went back to the rail. "I was kind of lucky the field was spread out," he said. "I had to maneuver in and out, and then I hoped that the horse in front was going to drift out."
Great Communicator was holding off the challenges of Motley and Stately Don, but he is not a strong finisher. In fact, he is not a top-class stakes horses at all. His only victories this season came in a claiming race and an allowance race in California. So when Le Glorieux got into gear and found plenty of room on the inside, the leader couldn't hold him off.
Le Glorieux won $450,000, increasing his lifetime earnings to $802,889.
The International drew 20,654 spectators, which was somewhat of a disappointment, since the presence of the Soviet horse had figured to be a box-office attraction. However, the crowd bet $2,813,300, an all-time Laurel record, on the 11-race program.