READING YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS
As any horse-racing fan whose interest in the sport goes back as far as the 1957 Kentucky Derby can testify, even jockeys as expert as Willie Shoemaker sometimes have trouble spotting the finish line. The problem has been especially bothersome this year at Gulfstream Park, where jockeys have been complaining that the finish, though readily apparent to fans sitting in the stands, was hard to see from the back of a horse approaching it at close to 40 mph down the stretch. So the Gulfstream management has now adorned the pole at the finish line with a red circle enclosing white lettering that says THE END.
One member of the track's publicity staff suggested that if the jockeys need that much help, why not give them more? He proposed a series of signs, something like those old Burma Shave roadside advertisements, that would say, in succession, GETTING CLOSE, COMING UP, WATCH OUT NOW! And then, after THE END, another series saying IT'S OVER, HEY, NO MORE, SO STOP ALREADY!
Taken with the idea, Turf Writer Art Grace of the Miami News thought up one more sign, this one a tribute to the overwhelming ability of Honest Pleasure, the winter-book favorite for the Derby who won the Flamingo by 11 lengths. Grace suggests a message at the 16th pole, which is more than the length of a football field from the finish line, saying, IF YOU WERE ON HONEST PLEASURE, YOU'D BE HOME NOW.
Speaking of Honest Pleasure and future betting, the Churchill Downs Race and Sports Book in Las Vegas has made that fine colt a rock-solid 8-to-5 favorite for the Derby. Not very appealing odds, at first glance, but if Honest Pleasure holds his form until May 1, Derby Day, he is almost certain to go off at odds-on, and an 8-to-5 bet will seem like a steal.
Those who want the promise of a more substantial return for their money will go for the 6-to-1 odds Las Vegas is offering on Telly Savalas' outstanding runner, Telly's Pop, the California favorite. Everything else is a long shot, from An Act (10 to 1), the undefeated Zen (10 to 1), and Bold Forbes (11 to 1) to the darkest of dark horses, Noble Envoy and Man O' Work, each a cool 2,000 to 1.
Among those afflicted with the craze for citizens' band radio (page 36) is the Philadelphia Phillies' second baseman, Dave Cash, who had a CB unit installed in his car before he left for Florida and—at long last—spring training. Cash was fascinated by the special jargon of the CBers—such as "Smokey" for police, "Green Stamps" for money (especially money needed to pay speeding fines) and "taking pictures" for police radar coverage. "Once," Cash says, "I heard a guy say, 'This is that Kentucky Colonel one time. I'm shouting for that Baseball Player, come on.' When I answered, he said, 'There's a Smokey near that underpass. Hey, Baseball Player, that Smokey's getting ready to take your picture. Better back it down to a double nickel [55 mph].' When he signed off he said, 'It's been a pleasure modulating with you. Keep the Smokeys off your back and the Green Stamps in your pocket. I'm southbound and down 10-77 [negative contact]. I'm gone.' "
The new hobby evokes visions of an imaginary contract talk on CB between Cash, as yet unsigned, and Philadelphia General Manager Paul Owens. "This is that Pope Paul one time," the theoretical discussion begins. "I'm shouting for that Baseball Player, come on. Hey, Baseball Player, I'm hauling a heavy load this trip. You got to stop tailgating me."