If this 1�-mile jockey jihad is the most exciting two minutes in sports, what is the least? A Karl Malone free throw? Ron Powlus rolling out to pass? (Editor: This column?) The 124th Run for the Roses has more than a few intriguing entries vying to win the first leg of the Triple Crown: One is Favorite Trick (above, far left), who last year became only the second 2-year-old (Secretariat was the first, in 1973) to be named Horse of the Year—not to be confused with Event of" the Year, who had to drop out of the race last week with a right-knee fracture. Then there is Indian Charlie, whose trainer, Bob Baffert, stood in the winner's circle at Churchill Downs last May with Silver Charm. Indian Charlie is unbeaten and coming off an impressive win at last month's Santa Anita Derby. Finally, three is Halory Hunter, whose principal owner, Rick Pitino, had hoped another sporting engagement would have rendered him too busy to attend this afternoon.
?ABC, 4:30 PM
Arizona Rattlers at Iowa Barnstormers
Hunkie Cooper is/was: (a) the laconic star of High Noon, (b) thick enough to eat with a fork but use a spoon to get every drop or (c) the hero of last August's Arenabowl XI. (Answer: c.) Today's inaugural Arena Football Hall of Fame game—yes, such a place exists, and it occupies two rooms on the first floor of the Flynn Building in Des Moines—is a rematch of last summer's title game, in which Arizona's Cooper, a wideoutlinebacker, scored three touchdowns in the Rattlers' 55-33 victory. Today's season opener from Veterans Memorial Auditorium (the Barn) will be enhanced by the induction into the Hall of league founder James Foster, who conjured up the sport in 1981 while watching an indoor soccer game. Tourist tip: The envelope on which Foster scribbled his plans now resides in the Hall.
? ESPN2, 3:30 PM
NASCAR California 500
In only its second year California Speedway, the two-mile oval in Fontana (40 miles east of Los Angeles), has become a favorite of drivers on the Winston Cup circuit. "It's as good a track as you could ask for," said Terry Labonte (opposite, below) after taking his first practice laps a year ago, while Jeff Gordon called it an "awesome facility that's a stepping-stone to the next generation." Gordon and Labonte finished one-two, respectively, in last June's inaugural left-turn lollapalooza. The reigning series champ and winner of two races this season, Gordon brings the best combo of hair and speed to SoCal since Ponch hung up his motorcycle britches.
? ESPN, 3:30 PM
Skate TV Championships
Olympic gold medalists Oksana Baiul, Tara Lipinski (making her pro debut) and Katarina Witt headline an event taped in Charleston, S.C., in which each skater is required to perform a program to a rock-and-roll tune. What you won't see if you forsake the penultimate episode of Seinfeld for this show: Baiul skating to Chumbawamba's Tubthumping. The lyrics ("He drinks a whiskey drink/He drinks a vodka drink/He drinks a lager drink/He drinks a cider drink") might prompt viewers to recall Baiul's DUI hearing last year. She'll perform instead to Safe from Harm by Massive Attack and Sarah McLachlan's Possession. Lipinski will skate to (surprise!) Oh, Tara by the Knack.
?ABC, 9 PM
Padres at Braves
Hot teams with hot bats at the hot corner meet in Hotlanta. With his mighty stick, Braves third basemen Chipper Jones is providing more thrills at Turner Field than the owner's wife did in Barbarella. At week's end he was third in the National League in home runs (nine) and RBIs (27) and fifth in batting average (.387), helping Atlanta maintain its perch atop the East. Its counterpart in the West, San Diego, fittingly has been playing like a team on a mission. The Padres' 17-6 start was the best in baseball and their best ever. Third baseman Ken Caminiti (left) has reverted to his 1996 MVP form, in one stretch hitting a home run in four consecutive games. Don't channel-surf too soon: The Pad squad had won six games in its final at bat.
?TBS, 7:35 PM
ALL TIMES EASTERN. SCHEDULES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.