Jockey Alberto Delgado, who suffered a broken collarbone in a spill at Pimlico Sept. 29, returned to racing Tuesday at Laurel. His two-month recovery completed, Delgado now is attempting to revive ties with clients.

The process has begun slowly. Delgado had two mounts Tuesday, four yesterday.

"It's gonna be real tough to work my way back in," said Delgado, the nation's Eclipse Award-winning apprentice in 1982. "I lost most of my outfits, so I have to start right from the bottom again."

Delgado's primary tie is to trainer Luigi Gino, his father-in-law. Delgado was the principal rider for leading trainer King Leatherbury following Bill Passmore's retirement in early 1986, but that tie weakened this year with the ascent of Kent Desormeaux.

"He's a very competent rider," Leatherbury said of Delgado. "But spills are part of a jockey's occupational hazard. When they go out, somebody else has to ride the horse. And how do you take a guy off a horse who's won two or three races for you?

"I'll help {Delgado} where I can, but you can't disrupt your business operation in the process. I'm not working for the rider; I'm working for the owner."

In his six mounts, Delgado hasn't been better than fourth; however, only two of his horses have had lower odds than 10 to 1.

"You can't even afford to get hurt," Delgado said. Then, laughing, added, "They rob you real quick."

Fans at Laurel made Solstice Star the 8-to-5 favorite in yesterday's fourth race. But his backers discovered that even Leatherbury can't teach an older horse new tricks. At least not in four weeks.

When Leatherbury claimed Solstice Star for $11,500 on Nov. 5, he got a 4-year-old gelding that epitomizes a "hanging" racehorse. In 39 previous starts, Solstice Star had won once, was second 11 times and third nine times.

He prolonged that trend yesterday. With Desormeaux aboard, Solstice Star ranged up on front-running Lydian's Touch with a quarter-mile remaining in the 1 1/16-mile race, then lost his momentum. The two leaders pulled away from the field, but Solstice Star couldn't escape himself. He lost by a nose.

That was as close as Desormeaux got to winning. His streak of 29 consecutive days with a victory was ended although he rode the favorite in seven of his nine races.

Desormeaux's lead over second-place Allen Stacy at Laurel now is 70-21.

Phil Grove, a former regular on the Maryland circuit, was admitted to Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Charles Town, W.Va., with a possible facial fracture following a spill at Charles Town Wednesday.

Grove was thrown in the seventh race when his mount, Princess Pink, broke down. Ali's Keen then trampled Grove, throwing jockey Todd Dupuis. Dupuis was treated at Jefferson Memorial and released.