LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Icy Groom, a troubled fourth in Thursday's Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, will still run in next Saturday's Kentucky Derby, but he will not be saddled by trainer Eddie Gregson.
Icy Groom will also have a new jockey in the Derby, Eddie Delahoussaye having chosen to ride Vernon Castle, winner of the California Derby.
Delahoussaye, who won consecutive derbies with the Gregson-trained Gato Del Sol in 1982 and with Sunny's Halo in 1983, has ridden Icy Groom in his last six races.
Bill Fleming, the Lexington, Ky., owner of Icy Groom, wanted Delahoussaye to ride the colt again in the Derby. Fleming said Friday that he had not yet found a replacement for Delahoussaye. Fleming would like to get the services of Pat Day, but Day apparently is tied up with Rampage, the winner of the Arkansas Derby.
After a long telephone conversation with Fleming on Friday, Gregson recommended that Icy Groom not run in the Derby. But Fleming, who became seriously interested in racing three years ago, believes that the son of Blushing Groom deserves another chance and has returned Icy Groom to the care of Sam Ramer, a Churchill Downs trainer.
Ramer, whom Fleming also considers a personal friend, helped pick out Icy Groom when the colt was a 2-year-old, Fleming buying him for $115,000. Ramer was the trainer when Icy Groom raced for the first time, finishing second against maidens at Churchill Downs last June.
Icy Groom has been trained by Gregson at Santa Anita this year, winning the Bradbury Stakes and finishing a distant second to Snow Chief, the Kentucky Derby favorite, in the Santa Anita Derby.
Both Gregson and Fleming said that there was no bitterness over the owner's decision to run in the Kentucky Derby. In fact, Gregson will continue to train another of Fleming's horses stabled in California.
"It was a matter of logistics," Gregson said. "There are no hard feelings. This is a way of life for California trainers, and it was not practical for me to be back there to saddle the horse, anyway. I have misgivings about the colt running back in the Kentucky Derby because of his lack of seasoning."
Gregson, who had finished second with Gato Del Sol in the Blue Grass before they won the Derby, said that Icy Groom got little out of Thursday's race at Keeneland. Icy Groom was in third place, behind the eventual winner, Bachelor Beau, and Pillaster, but dropped back to sixth on the far turn after being squeezed and bumped by two other horses.
Icy Groom came out of the Blue Grass with superficial cuts on both hind legs, according to Gregson.
"The Blue Grass was designed to be a fitness race and a confidence builder for this horse," Gregson said. "He got neither one."
In 1982, Gregson was replaced by another trainer, Howard Tesher, when Gato Del Sol's owners decided to run the horse in the summer at Saratoga. Gato Del Sol was returned to Gregson in California, but by the end of the horse's career, Charlie Whittingham had become his trainer.
"We can't run the horse in the Derby next year," Fleming said. "I thought he had about 12 excuses in the Blue Grass, and he still only got beat by about three lengths."
"I know Snow Chief beat us bad in the Santa Anita Derby, but in the Kentucky Derby we'll both be carrying more weight (126 pounds), there's an extra quarter of a mile to run and I think that my horse might like Churchill Downs, because right now the track surface is somewhat similar to Santa Anita's."
Horse Racing Notes Trainer Woody Stephens, who has won the Derby Trial the last three years with Creme Fraiche, Devil's Bag and Caveat, will start Glow in the Derby Trial field of 13 today as Churchill Downs opens its season. . . . Son of the Desert, who was scratched from the Blue Grass, is also running. It is not a distinguished field and is unlikely to produce many, if any, Derby starters. . . . The father of jockey Pat Day died Friday in Colorado. Day had missed riding Thursday at Keeneland to be with his father. . . . Clive Brittain, trainer of Bold Arrangement, the English horse who was a late-closing third in the Blue Grass, has returned to Newmarket. There, Brittain will ask British authorities to postpone the seven-day suspension of jockey Pat Eddery. Without a stay, Eddery will be unable to ride Bold Arrangement in the Kentucky Derby and will also miss the mount on Pebbles, last year's North American female grass champion, in a stake in France a week from Sunday. Kenny Black, who may ride Bold Arrangement if Eddery isn't available, said that Eddery told him after the Blue Grass that the chances were slim that the suspension would be delayed. Bold Arrangement will return home after the Kentucky Derby, to run in the Epsom Derby June 4. No horse has won both of those classic races. Only two English-bred horses--Omar Khayyam in 1917 and Tomy Lee in 1959--have won the Kentucky Derby.