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There is a strong possibility that Heavyweight Champion Cassius Clay now will be eligible for the draft. So said a spokesman for the Kentucky Selective Service Commission after Defense Department and Selective Service officials decided to review records of high school graduates classified I-Y (available for emergency duty).
The review will begin with men nearest age 26 and work down toward age 19. It will be concerned first with high school graduates who are I-Y only because of failure to pass the mental test. Clay, who is 23 and who twice failed the mental portion of the induction tests, could be one of the first drafted under the new ruling.
This news coincides with definite confirmation that British promoters are talking to the Louisville sponsoring group, Clay's promoters, about a Clay-Brian London title fight in London. At the same time, the irrepressible Archie Moore announces he has a youngster coming up who will take the heavyweight championship away from Clay—in about five years.
Why five years? Well, because Archie figures it will take his challenger ( Billy Ray McDaniel of Bakersfield, Calif.) that long to get good enough to beat Clay. He is only 16. Of course, if Clay is drafted Archie may decide that his man is ready to win it right now.
New York Thoroughbred racing has enjoyed an uninterrupted rise in attendance and betting since the end of World War II. Until 1965, that is. This past year attendance dropped 138,071 from the 1964 figure and the pari-mutuel handle fell $12,101,753—and this in the face of increases all over the rest of the country.
The state's tax revenue did not diminish. Gracious, no. In July the legislature awarded itself breakage on 10� instead of 5� on each dollar paid back to bettors—that is, if the payoff on a winning $2 bet should mathematically be $4.79 the bettor now receives $4.60 instead of $4.70. The extra 19� goes to the state, over and beyond the tax bite already taken out of the bet.
Some racing statisticians feel that the increase in the state's cut is the reason why attendance and betting have declined. But most horseplayers are not too aware of the loss they suffer in those mounting pennies. (And they mount. The breakage for a $1.79-to-$1 payoff on a $10 bet is almost a dollar.) A likelier reason for the decline is that in the New York metropolitan area the racing season is intolerably long and dreary—210 days of racing, all at slick, super-duper-market Aqueduct. A season of 210 days is too much, and one track is not enough (even though 24 days at Saratoga, 180 miles north of New York City, are sandwiched into midsummer). Like horses, horseplayers get track sore.
Anyway, we applaud this small rebellion, whether it be directed against rapacious politicians or heedless track management.