HOLLYWOOD PARK : Robinson Eyes a Career as Trainer

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Because he plans to retire at the end of next season, his 20th in the NHL, Larry Robinson only has one more chance to help bring Bruce McNall a Stanley Cup.

If it doesn't materialize, perhaps some day they could realize another of the King owner's dreams together. Robinson might train a Kentucky Derby winner for McNall.

A certain Hall of Fame inductee after he retires, Robinson, who will turn 40 June 2, has been spending his mornings on the Hollywood Park backstretch since the Kings were eliminated by Edmonton April 28. He has been working with trainer Richard Cross, looking toward a possible career in the business.

Horses are hardly foreign to Robinson. He grew up on a dairy farm in eastern Ontario and has played polo in Montreal--where he spent his first 17 NHL seasons--during the off-season for the last six years.

"What fascinates me the most is the animal and how they work," Robinson said. "As far as the racing end of it goes, I guess I'm like everybody else. It's a nice spectacle, but I'm more fascinated by the animal.

"The day after we got beat, I came out here. For me, it was a great way to get my mind off what had happened. I've been hanging around with Richard, listening, asking questions and trying to learn. Basically, I'm going through what it takes to be an assistant trainer right now. I've been reading up on different medications and all that kind of stuff. I still have a lot to learn.

"Seeing how I've been involved in horses through polo, it's kind of an ideal situation. I love it."

This doesn't mean Robinson is necessarily going to become a trainer when he quits playing hockey. "I don't know," he said. "I'd like to go through it, so I have my license if I do decide that's what I want to do.

"Basically, what I'd like to set up is a place where I can keep my polo ponies and at the same time, maybe get a couple of 2-year-olds and train them right on the facility.

"I've also talked a little bit about getting into the coaching end (of hockey). Not so much here because I think the coaching staff that we have is probably the finest in the league right now. But working with the young kids in Phoenix (a King minor league team) is a possibility."

Robinson, who owned the stakes-winning mare Down Again in partnership with McNall, has La Rondelle, a 3-year-old colt, with Cross. La Rondelle, which means "the puck" in French, may return to action late in the Hollywood Park meeting or at Del Mar.

"He already knows a great deal about horses," Cross said of Robinson. "He's been around horses a lot, but what he's had to do is adjust his knowledge to this game. I'm not sure how committed he is one way or the other. He likes horses and he likes to be around them, but I'm not sure if he wants to be a full-time trainer.

"He's an extra hand, an extra eye. He sees things, and that's always good to have."

One thing Robinson hasn't done much since the end of the Kings' season is watch hockey on television. He saw only one complete game of the Minnesota-Edmonton series.

"It was frustrating because I know it should have been us out there," he said. "We were our own worst enemy. You have to play every game and every period in the playoffs like there's no tomorrow. I don't think we had the hunger that it takes.

"I kind of made a half-hearted promise to Bruce that I wouldn't quit until we won a Cup. If it doesn't happen (next year), it's in the near future. The nucleus is there and there's good, young talent coming in."

Dinard has returned to California, and the Santa Anita Derby winner will race again, according to Alex Hassinger, assistant to trainer Richard Lundy.

The Strawberry Road gelding was injured while preparing for the Kentucky Derby, raising doubt as to whether he would be able to resume his career.

"The horse will dictate when he runs again," Hassinger said. "He's getting plenty of rest. We had a vet scan the tendon with a laser and he thought it wasn't as bad as we expected. He said he could possibly resume training in six to eight weeks, but it's strictly up to the horse.

"It's one of those things. You can't just throw him back in there. There's no need to push him."

Horse Racing Notes

Pat Valenzuela won his first race with his seventh mount in his latest comeback, taking favored Articulation wire-to-wire in Wednesday's second race at Hollywood Park. "It felt great, really good," he said. "After I passed the finish line, I raised my hand. A lot of the (other) jockeys congratulated me when I came back. That's the main one--to break the ice. From here on, I think it'll come a lot easier." . . . Kent Desormeaux finished last and second with longshots on his first day back after being out since March 17 because of a broken wrist.

In her first start since the Yellow Ribbon Stakes last November, Reluctant Guest ran fourth as the 4-5 favorite in Wednesday's feature, a $55,000 allowance at one mile on the turf. Island Jamboree, a 14-1 shot, won under Gary Stevens in 1:33 1/5.

Anshan and Louis Cyphre, who are scheduled to start in Sunday's Mervyn LeRoy Handicap, inadvertently worked together Wednesday morning and both went five furlongs in :59 1/5.

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