The financial risk for William Fleming, the Lexington, Ky., owner of Icy Groom, is minimal. Through the advice of Sam Ramer, who also trains some of Fleming's horses, Icy Groom was bought in Florida as a 2-year-old for $115,000. That's a low price for a son of Blushing Groom, a stallion whose stud fee has been reported as $275,000, and already Icy Groom has earned $157,000.
Apparently Icy Groom, not a very tall horse, was also poorly shod when he was led into the sales ring, and that accounted for Fleming's bargain price.
Fleming, in his early 60s, retired at 58 from a business manufacturing steel products. He dabbled in the construction business in Florida, then got into horse racing.
"When I retired, I got bored," he said.
If Icy Groom should somehow win two horse races in Kentucky in the next 10 days, boredom will turn to bedlam for William Fleming.
Horse Racing Notes Eddie Delahoussaye, who rode Gato Del Sol in the Derby, has Icy Groom in today's Blue Grass. Jockey Don Brumfield, who has won a record 25 stakes at Keeneland, is 0 for 11 in the Blue Grass. He is riding Major Moran, a 50-1 shot. . . . Zabaleta, second behind Fobby Forbes in the Garden State Stakes last Saturday, is going to run in the Kentucky Derby, which represents a change of plans by trainer John Gosden. . . . The name of the horse is Groovy, but that's not how things are with his owners. After Groovy's third-place finish in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct last Saturday, his trainer, Petro Peters, was complaining about the ride he got from Craig Perret. Groovy's owners--John Ballis and Ted Kruckel--apparently were complaining about Peters, because they fired him Monday, just before the horse was to leave for New York to run in the Kentucky Derby. Groovy's owners are always firing their trainers--they are to racing what George Steinbrenner is to baseball--and Howard Crowell became the colt's fifth conditioner. Crowell was highly visible at Aqueduct in the days before the Wood and appeared to be looking over Peters' shoulder even then. Just 10 days ago, Kruckel had said of Peters: "He has my absolute vote of confidence."
Carlos Marquez, who suffered a broken neck and cranial bleeding in a spill at Santa Anita last week, reportedly was given only a 50-50 chance to survive. But the 44-year-old jockey has improved dramatically and may be removed from intensive care today. . . . Sandy Hawley, who suffered rib injuries in the same spill, was released from the hospital a couple of days later and will be riding at Canterbury Downs near Minneapolis instead of at Hollywood Park. Hawley, who won the Eclipse Award as the country's outstanding jockey in 1976, has seen his business sour in California. . . . Liz Taylor, a 3-year-old filly, won the Bouwerie Stakes Sunday at Aqueduct. . . . New York jockey Angel Cordero, talking about California horses: "In the last two years, they've been better than the horses in the East. They come East and win a lot of races. Our horses go the other way and have trouble. Eastern trainers don't do that well when they move to California, either, except for Laz Barrera."
Don MacBeth, the top New York jockey, has been hospitalized since he went down when his mount broke a leg at Aqueduct more than two weeks ago. Besides being treated for back injuries, MacBeth had surgery to remove lumps from beneath his arms. MacBeth told Newsday that recent rumors about his having cancer are not true. . . . Jorge Velasquez says that he'll ride Arewehavingfunyet for trainer Wayne Lukas in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs May 2. Lukas may also start Family Style, third-place finisher in last Saturday's Arkansas Derby. Hidden Light and Tiffany Lass, both undefeated, are scheduled to run in the Oaks, which will have a more distinguished field than the Kentucky Derby. The 3-year-old filly crop hasn't been as hard hit by injuries as the colts have been.
Bill Shoemaker, scheduled to ride Onyxly Wednesday in the Premiere Handicap at Hollywood Park, took off the mount so he could fly to Louisville, where he'll work Hidden Light early this morning for trainer Charlie Whittingham. Shoemaker has the mounts on Hidden Light in the Oaks and Ferdinand in the Kentucky Derby. Ferdinand will work in company with Hidden Light today, with exercise rider Larry Gilligan aboard.