THE OLD CONFIDENCE
A baseball fan called the Waterbury, Conn. Republican the day the Mets beat the Cubs 19-1 to ask how many runs the Mets scored that day. He was told 19. "Did they win?" he asked.
Eyebrows were raised in Thoroughbred racing circles last week when The Scoundrel, third in the Kentucky Derby and second in the Preakness, suffered an injury at Garden State and was forced to cancel his engagements in the Jersey Derby and Belmont Stakes. There is nothing new about horses suffering injuries, of course, but in The Scoundrel's case his injury came just a few days after the eminently successful California owner-breeder Rex Ellsworth had sold him for $500,000 to a comparative greenhorn in racing, Kjell Qvale (pronounced Shell Qua-vali), a Norwegian-born auto salesman from San Francisco.
Suddenly stuck with a stall occupied by $500,000 worth of nonrunning horse (if his tendon heals sufficiently, The Scoundrel may make it back to the races next winter at SantaAnita), Owner Qvale said matter-of-factly, "I've bought and paid for the horse and he's mine. It's too bad."
What did Rex Ellsworth think? "This injury hit me as big a jolt as it did Qvale," he said, understandably touchy about cynical comments directed his way. "But any criticism is ridiculous. I can think of 1,000 horses that the same thing has happened to. Because it happens to me some people are ready to jump all over me. I'd hate to tell you how many horses I have bought myself that never got to the races. Why, for heaven's sake, I bought Khaled, the best stallion I ever owned, and intended to pay him out, but I never got a good racing purse out of him. This has been happening since the beginning of horses. If horses race they take the chance of breaking down. Nobody can predict the timing of injuries."
Was Ellsworth considering refunding Qvale his money and calling the whole thing off? "As far as a refund offer is concerned, it has never been a question. Kjell is my friend, he's always going to be my friend and that's the way it's going to be. If there's to be an adjustment on our deal [for his $500,000 Qvale gets four services a year to any Ellsworth stallion for a minimum of 10 years, and Ellsworth in turn is entitled to four services annually to The Scoundrel], that's between this man and myself—just between him and me."
The good fighters of the near future, according to Angelo Dundee, who trains champions, including the prettiest, will come from Italy and Japan. In Rome not long ago Dundee saw 70 boxers in one gymnasium, "and there were dozens more gyms like it," he says. "In Japan," Dundee adds, "I found even more. Every Japanese gym is packed, and they have TV fights six days a week. The next few years you will see a mass importation of Italian and Japanese fighters."
Dundee, of Italian descent, will have no trouble instructing the Romans, and he has mastered Spanish, so he can speak to his Latins. Now he may have to go to Berlitz for a bit of Japanese.