Actually, the harness horsemen did not spend as much as they did at the same sale in 1968. Nonetheless, they were all aware that one man, Thomas Dexter, a newcomer to the sport, had paid $125,000 for a bay colt named Froehlich Hanover, a full brother to a couple of world champions. Dexter, a postcard manufacturer from Pearl River, N.Y., who got into harness racing only five years ago when he was "looking for a hobby," shocked the oldtimers with his money and persistence. Most dismayed of all was longtime Trainer-Driver Howard Beissinger, who had his heart set on Froehlich Hanover but who gave up at $120,000. He slumped dejectedly in his chair after Froehlich was sold.
"That shows you what's happening in this sport," said a friend of Beissinger's. "A guy comes here with $120,000 to buy one horse, and he can't get him."
A story like this, though probably ancient, is hard to resist. A male harness-horse driver, noticing a lady driver in the next sulky, leaned over and said, "What's a nice girl like you doing in a pace like this?"
HE'S GOT THE HORSES
It used to be that when a football coach had talent galore on his team, someone would be sure to say, "Man, he's got the horses." Now there is a college halfback of whom you can say the same thing, with considerably more accuracy. Mike Kemling, a halfback at Nebraska Wesleyan, owns his own string of Thoroughbreds. His Kem Jr. earned $12,000 in 1968 and $32,800 this year, before Kemling lost him in a $10,000 claiming race at Chicago's Hawthorne Park, and he also has a 2-year-old named Hesa Kem that has earned $16,000. That gives young Kemling winnings of $60,000 in two years, plus the $10,000 he got for Kem Jr., which should help pay a library fine or two.
Kemling trains the horses himself when he is on vacation, and his father takes over when Mike, who is only 5'7" and 160 pounds, is in school playing football. Last year, as a sophomore, he was Wesleyan's second leading rusher with 316 yards on 106 carries, and this season, in nine games, he had 615 yards on 170 carries. Come to think of it, he's not a bad horse himself.
Things have a way of snowballing, though that's the wrong figure of speech for this item. Baseball has long been a favorite sport of Puerto Ricans, but attendance at winter league games on the island last year was uncomfortably sparse, and it was feared that the game was losing ground But now, after the first weeks of winter baseball this season, attendance is soaring again—and this despite rain, and lots of it
Two things are primarily responsible for the upsurge, according to Mario Nevarez, president of the San Juan Senators. First, the generally heightened interest in baseball in the States is being reflected in Puerto Rico, because the Game of the Week was televised there (via satellite) for the first time. Second, the victory of the New York Mets absolutely delighted the islanders and got them bubbling about baseball again. "Puerto Ricans love an underdog," says Nevarez, but, more to the point, he explains that the Mets are looked upon as practically a home-town team "Don't forget," he adds, "more than one million Puerto Ricans live in New York City, more than live in San Juan."
So, with late returns in from outlying districts, chalk up one more triumph for the Amazin's.