All that said, I'm here to suggest that the yellow flag is up. Proceed with caution. Easy Goer's chief opponent, Sunday Silence, has shown flashes of brilliance. On April 8, he crushed five other 3-year-olds, including the enigmatic Houston, to win the 1⅛-mile Santa Anita Derby by 11 lengths in an extremely fast 1:47[3/5]. That performance was even more impressive than Easy Goer's three-length victory in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.
Any sleepwalker can pick Easy Goer, as I have been doing all spring, and he may turn out to be as good as everyone expects. Meanwhile, looking for a better price, I'm switching to Sunday Silence.
The New York Racing Association's 1989 media guide includes in its thumbnail biographies of jockeys and trainers more than the usual names, ages and listings of races won. Most of those profiled also answered this question: If you could be anyone in history, who would you be?
The jockeys tended to name other athletes—Angel Cordero, for example, picked Muhammad Ali, and Bill Shoemaker chose Arnold Palmer—but the trainers preferred authority figures of one sort or another. Life must be rough for the stablehands taking orders from these guys, most of whom chose the likes of Vince Lombardi, Henry VIII, John Wayne, Teddy Roosevelt and Donald Trump. Angel Penna picked Napoleon Bonaparte, and his son. Angel Penna Jr., also a trainer, said, "Francisco Franco—not that I would want to be a dictator." Perhaps the definitive trainers' answer was offered by Leo O'Brien, who simply said, "God."
CARRYING A BIG STICK
Bravo to first baseman Glenn Davis of the Houston Astros for ridding the baseball airwaves of at least a few irritating commercial intrusions. As any fan in Houston can tell you, Astro television announcers greet every Houston home run with a plug for Budweiser beer, which is a sponsor of the broadcasts. "Glenn Davis [or whoever else hit the homer], this Bud's for you!" they proclaim. Davis, a nondrinker who once was nearly killed while in a car involved in an alcohol-related crash, has asked that his home runs no longer be toasted over the air. "I realize I'm a lone wolf on this," says Davis, "but somebody's got to take the responsibility for providing role models for kids. Athletes are in a position where we can do it."
Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Budweiser, said it will comply with Davis's request, but the company must be wishing that some other Astro had asked. Through Sunday, Davis was tied for the National League lead with seven home runs. His teammates had hit a total of six.
WHY THE OBSESSION WITH RACE?
Sybil Smith was an All-America swimmer at Boston University who finished sixth in the 100-yard backstroke at the 1988 NCAA championships. The airing last week of a controversial NBC special, "Black Athletes—Fact & Fiction, "in which some data were adduced to support the claim that blacks are physiologically suited to run faster and jump higher than whites, renewed painful memories for her. Now the assistant women's swimming coach at Harvard, Smith offers these thoughts: