Twenty years between winners for a trainer is a long time. But that's about how long it's taken Saratoga Springs homeowner Roger Laurin, the trainer of the first-ever Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) champion Chief's Crown, to get back to work.
Laurin, the son of Secretariat's trainer Lucien Laurin, thought he quit training for good in 1985, shortly after Chief's Crown was retired from the racetrack. The few horses he owned, he passed off to other conditioners, preferring the links to the early morning wake-up. Then slowly, but surely, he got bored, or at least that's what Steve Jordan said.
Jordan is in charge of the security barns here at Saratoga Racecourse. He's had plenty of jobs on the racetrack, including being a trainer himself. But it goes without saying that, when you're around a good horse, that's the job that you remember most.
As an assistant to Laurin for nine years, Jordan watched Laurin saddle Chief's Crown to losses as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), the Preakness Stakes (gr. I,) and the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). He also witnessed Chief's Crown capture victories in the Travers Stakes and the Marlboro Cup (both gr. I).
On Friday, he -- and 24,509 unknowing fans -- saw Laurin's name as trainer, owner, and breeder of Icy City in the past performances for the second race at Saratoga, a maiden special weight for New York-bred fillies.
Laurin has two horses stabled at Saratoga, and Icy City is the first of these two to win. In her third lifetime try, the Carson City 2-year-old beat seven other fillies in 1:18 for 5 1/2 furlongs. Icy City is never going to give Laurin the thrills that Chief's Crown did, but it must have felt good when he walked away from the winner's circle.
One hundred ninety-one New York-bred yearlings are stabled now in the Fasig-Tipton barns on Madison Street. Saturday and Sunday, horse owners will be looking for a fast horse to buy there. The auctioneer will be calling for bids beginning at 7 p.m., when the action of the auction returns to the Spa City.
Accomplished stakes winners such as Behaving Badly, Capeside Lady, Fleet Indian, and Funny Cide have emerged from this venue. Icy City is a home-bred.
Nevertheless, it's not how you start out, but how you finish. And, it's good to see Laurin finishing off where he started 20 years ago.