When jockey Alberto Delgado resumed riding last week following a two-month absence, he was concerned about rejuvenating his business. His advertising got a boost yesterday as he rode Smart 'N Quick to victory in the $156,550 Laurel Budweiser Breeders' Cup.
Delgado rallied Smart 'N Quick past favored Angelina County in a long stretch duel to win the $101,758 prize at Laurel by a half-length. Catatonic made a belated surge under Vince Bracciale Jr. to finish third, a head behind Angelina County.
"Hopefully, this will show the other trainers and owners that I've still got it," Delgado said. "This is really gonna pick me up."
The victory also thrust Smart 'N Quick into contention for top Maryland-bred older female. The 4-year-old filly surprised many in a crowd of 10,318 -- producing a $28 win mutuel -- but her trainer, Katy Voss, wasn't among them.
"For a long time, it seemed like something was bothering her," Voss said. "We couldn't find out what it was. Then we spotted it 10 days ago -- a bar crack in her foot. We put on a fiberglass patch and a bar shoe, and let her go."
Voss also had to decide on a jockey. Delgado had ridden Smart 'N Quick regularly before he broke his collarbone in a spill at Pimlico Sept. 29. With him sidelined, Greg Hutton rode the filly in her last three stakes, producing one first- and one second-place finish.
"Al's won two stakes on her and has ridden her most of her life," Voss said. "It wasn't his fault he got hurt."
Delgado broke Smart 'N Quick from post 1 and clung to the rail in second place as Arctic Cloud dashed to a two-length lead leaving the first turn of the 1 1/8-mile race. Kent Desormeaux had Pretty Tricky flanked to Smart 'N Quick's right, with 11-to-10 favorite Angelina County and jockey Donald Miller Jr. a close fourth, three-wide.
Jeff Lloyd kept Arctic Cloud on the lead into the far turn, but less than two lengths separated the top four. When the leader began to slow in front of Delgado turning for home, the jockey had to improvise.
As Desormeaux sent Pretty Tricky to the lead with Angelina County in close pursuit, Delgado steadied Smart 'N Quick for fear of clipping Arctic Cloud's heels. As soon as he was clear, Delgado swung the gray filly outside, hit her right-handed, and the rally was on. She finished in 1:52.
"You've got to be careful with her," said Delgado, the 1982 Eclipse Award-winning apprentice. "You've just got to love-tap her. She doesn't like to be hit hard, and you never want to hit her left-handed."
Hutton made that discovery in the All Brandy Handicap six weeks ago. As Smart 'N Quick was attempting to catch Angelina County in the stretch, Hutton whacked his mount left-handed, and she lurched right, losing any chance to catch the leader.
Delgado's whip hand helped Smart 'N Quick to her second stakes victory of 1987 and fourth of her career. The daughter of Wise Exchange has earned nearly $350,000 for John Merryman of Sparks, Md.