Laurel's third race was run in silence yesterday as track announcer Milo Perrins apparently became ill and left the track without informing management.
Doug Vair, Laurel's in-house handicapper, called the final seven races. He had never called a race before.
Perrins was in the announcer's booth moments before the horses went into the starting gate for the third race, when he announced softly: "Ladies and gentlemen, we are now going to Keeneland. I'm very ill. There will be a race, but I won't call it." Keeneland has no public address system.
Soon after the race, Jim Mango, the track's vice president and general manager, hurried to the announcer's booth atop the Laurel roof, but Perrins was not there. He was seen leaving the track with his wife, Kathy, less than 10 minutes later.
Mango said track officials had heard from other sources earlier in the day that Perrins had the flu. "He took sick right before the race," Mango said. "Evidently, he chose to go home."
Mango said it was "unusual" Perrins would leave the track without notifying management. He said track officials would discuss the incident before determining who would call the action when Laurel reopens Thursday.
Perrins, 31, was scheduled to call his last race in Maryland Friday after having submitted his resignation Nov. 2. Perrins, who has announced at Laurel and Pimlico since July 1989, will call races in New Mexico starting in January.
His replacement, Jehan Malherbe, is scheduled to arrive from South Africa via London today, but Mango said it is doubtful he would work Thursday's card. Malherbe, selected to replace Perrins three weeks ago, will call the races through December.
"It's kind of tough to have a guy get off the plane from Europe after a trip like that and say: 'Welcome to America. Let's go call some races,' " Mango said. Spanish Dior Moves
At the height of her career, Spanish Dior has been transferred from Joe Devereux's stable. Arthur Benjamin sold an 80 percent interest in the roan filly to Ed Wachtel of New York. Benjamin declined to reveal the price, which was believed in the $100,000 range.
Spanish Dior has won two straight allowance races by a comined 19 lengths, last week missing Laurel's 1 1/8-mile track record by two-fifths of a second. She will train in New York or California. . . .
Jockey Edgar Prado, still recovering from surgery to repair an internal injury, will begin exercising horses today, but probably won't ride until next week. Prado, who had a sizable lead in the rider standings with 42 victories when he was sidelined late last month, now ranks third behind Mike Luzzi (56) and Joe Rocco (48).