SI Vault
Edited by Robert W. Creamer
October 25, 1971
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October 25, 1971


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Compound sentences




Literary references


Times interrupted for applause


Pauses for laughter


Drink orders during address


Wild acclaim




No tomorrows





Surprisingly little attention has been paid to the action taken last week by the New York State Racing Commission, which suspended three men for 30 days and moved to revoke the license of another for the part they played in the undercover ownership of racehorses—including the crack 3-year-old, Jim French—by a hoodlum the FBI says is associated with the Genovese crime family. Two of the suspended men are Johnny Campo (SI, May 3) and George Poole, both outstanding trainers; the one who may be set down permanently is Frank Caldwell, ostensibly the principal owner of Jim French when the colt ran in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont.

The fourth man—and here is the rub—is Ralph Wilson, a millionaire breeder and owner of horses whose interests outside racing include ownership of the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League. Wilson protested the action of the Racing Commission, saying the charges against him "involve nothing more than a technicality. I strongly resent any implication by the commission that I knowingly participated in anything of a devious nature...."

The commission charged that Wilson in eight instances "violated or attempted to violate or assisted in the violation" of its rules. It said he sold racehorses—including Jim French—to Ralph R. Libutti, also known as Robert Presti and Nicholas Spadea, who was not a licensed owner and who had been barred from tracks in New York State since 1968. Libutti, whose arrest record goes back to 1954 (conspiracy to rob, bookmaking, car theft and burglary), was arrested last Friday by the FBI on a 1969 forgery charge. The commission said Wilson issued bills of sale for the horses to other people, even though Libutti was the actual purchaser; Libutti's illicit ownership of the horses was thus concealed.

The 30-day suspension was, as racing people admitted, a slap on the wrist. Its importance to Wilson was how it would sit with Commissioner Pete Rozelle of the NFL. Alex Karras and Joe Namath came under severe pressure from Rozelle for associating with people the football commissioner deemed unsavory. How savory is Ralph Libutti?

There is a town in Illinois named Polo whose high school football team is nicknamed the Marcos. It could be worse. They could be called the Ponies.

The University of Miami has a 6'4", 220-pound tackle called Golden Ruel. "It's not such a bad name," says Ruel, whose father, a former FBI agent, is Golden Sr. "He could have called me Slide."


For eight years Formula I drivers went to Mexico City in the fall for the last race of the Grand Prix circuit. This year's event was canceled, and indications are it may never be renewed as a Grand Prix championship race. The Mexican auto racing association says the reason for the cancellation was the death of Pedro Rodr�guez, Mexico's foremost driver, who was killed in West Germany in July. However, the race had lost its Grand Prix status earlier because of the drivers' disenchantment with racing conditions last year. Crowds broke down the high-wire fence and sat on the very edge of the asphalt speedway. The worried drivers were continually aware of sunbathers, chess players, mothers suckling infants, couples necking, all within a few feet of the cars zooming by.

Jackie Stewart refused at first to race unless the public was herded behind the fence. A worried official said that messing with the spectators would not work—many had stayed up all night for the spots they had—and that the race better start. If it did not, Stewart was advised, the crowd was likely to express its disappointment on cars, drivers and officials. So the 1970 race was run but, despite promises that there would be better crowd control in the future, the drivers wanted no more of the Mexican Grand Prix.

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