Obviously, if one of today's favorites wins on May 7, it will cost the Book money. Alessio's first communication quoted Summer Tan at 14 to 1, Nashua 2� to 1. But the Caliente Future Book will take its biggest bath if a horse called Trim Destiny comes in first. Originally listed at 500 to 1 in the Book, Trim Destiny attracted enough bets to require a payoff of $192,000. Then, on March 26, it romped to victory in the Arkansas Derby at the Hot Springs track. Alessio dropped the horse to 10 to 1.
After Trim Destiny, the victory of Summer Tan would hurt the Book most. Early in the year, Summer Tan was suspected of being unsound. But when the colt won a recent Jamaica purse by a startling 14 lengths, Alessio spent 35 minutes on the phone with his New York docker, getting an eye-witness report. Alessio thereupon dropped Summer Tan to 2� to 1. Both Nashua and Summer Tan impressed Alessio in the Wood Memorial last week. Summer Tan is now 2-1, Nashua 8-5. Swaps drilled a blistering 1:36 1/5 mile in his final workout before shipping to Kentucky, and his odds dropped from 10 to 1 to 4 to 1.
John Alessio is not likely to lose his shirt. It's still a good bet the Derby Book will turn a profit, as his Winter Book on the Santa Anita Handicap has for 14 years. Moreover, his own estimated handle from the Book this year, less than $250,000, won't come up to a good Sunday's gross at the airy little Tijuana track which he also runs. On May 7, Alessio will interrupt his regular Caliente card for a stride-by-stride broadcast of the race from Louisville. Betting booths will be open and payoffs made at Churchill Downs prices. To further stimulate traffic to Tijuana, Alessio is flying in a carload of mint, will serve authentic juleps (no tequila) and allow customers to keep the cups as souvenirs.
As the Derby draws near, mail-order bets in the Future Book are falling off. They're down to 60 a day now, though there was a recent spurt when Walter Winchell switched from stock market tipstering to give his listeners a good thing: Blue Ruler at 6 to 1. Unfortunately for WW fans (but conceivably a good thing for the Book), Blue Ruler has now developed ankle trouble and won't run in the Derby. All in all, if it weren't for those early 500-to-1 odds on Trim Destiny, John Alessio wouldn't have a shadow of care.
COON STRIKES BACK
The Davy Crockett craze among small fry, ignited by the Walt Disney television program and the ballad about Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier, has produced many a side effect besides throbbing headaches in parents. One is a boom in Davy Crockett coonskin hats and a resulting scarcity of coonskins. Coonhounds were never busier, but the coons themselves apparently are aware that the heat is on and are determined to sell their skins as dearly as possible.
A case in point is a coon hunt of a recent evening on the side of Elder Mountain near Chattanooga, Tenn. Five coonhounds in pursuit of a coon were lured by their quarry into the mouth of a cave. Two of the hounds were smart enough to turn back at the entrance, but three—named Rock, Beulah and Rose—could not resist the beckoning coon and plunged on in. Beulah and Rose squeezed through a crevice and Rock tried to follow but got stuck, trapping the others. The coon, now far into the cave, sat down to sweat it out, a little like Davy Crockett at the Alamo.
It was necessary to haul an air hammer, an air compressor and a bulldozer five miles up the rugged mountain trail and to work them a total of 88 man hours before two men, held by their heels, were able to reach the hounds and pull them out.
If coons could write songs (and they're much more clever than some song writers), they could do a good one about this coon who outwitted the five hounds. Might work in a line about "coon of the wild frontier."
TWO KINDS OF CANVAS