Shortly after the advance betting windows for the Preakness opened at Pimlico, a man walked up to a $2 seller window, handed the clerk $2,000 and said, "Give me 1,000 tickets on Seattle Slew." After the seller punched out tickets for 10 minutes, the bettor apologized for not going to the $50 or $100 windows. "I also bought 1,000 tickets on Seattle Slew in the Kentucky Derby," he said, "and if he wins today I'll buy 1,000 tickets on him in the Belmont Stakes. If he wins the Triple Crown, I'll sell the tickets in sets of three as souvenirs, and I expect to make a big profit. If he loses the Belmont, I can still cash in the Derby and Preakness tickets."
When Seattle Slew won the Preakness the eccentric collector was $1,800 ahead. If Slew wins the Belmont he expects to have the sets of tickets framed and suitably engraved, and sell them for $50 each. For his $6,000 investment he could make a profit of $44,000. If Slew loses Saturday, he is out only $200. Not a bad way to beat the races.
STAKES WELL DONE
Last week after his easy win aboard Forego in the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park, Bill Shoemaker sat on the plane carrying him back to California, thinking about the race and reflecting on his career. It suddenly dawned on him that the Metropolitan was his 700th stakes victory. Now that might not seem like a lot to some people, especially for a jockey who just last year chalked up his 7,000th win, but Shoe's nearest competitor is Eddie Arcaro, who had 554 stakes victories when he stopped riding. So Shoe's feat is equivalent to Aaron hitting 900 home runs to Ruth's 714.
Exactly one month earlier, Shoe's agent Harry Silbert told him he needed only one stakes win to hit 700, but the jockey tried not to think about it. "If you do, it makes it harder and you can go batty," says Shoemaker, who last year went into a slump waiting for 7,000. To date he has ridden 7,226 winners for nearly $63 million in purses.
Shoemaker's milestone was virtually unnoticed by the press, but he seemed not to mind. "When you get to that point, you think, 'What the hell, it's just another win.' I'm just glad it came on Forego. I'm very fond of that horse. I'd rather they write nice things about him," he says of the horse he considers the greatest he has ever ridden. "After Forego would come Swaps and Gallant Man, I guess, and then—what's the name of that horse, the sprinter who won the Hollywood Gold Cup?" Shoemaker laughs as he struggles to remember Ack Ack. "I've ridden 20 really top horses in my life, but I can't always remember their names. I'm getting old, you know, and my memory's getting bad."
Shoemaker is joking, of course. When you have ridden some 30,000 horses, it's easy to forget names, but races—never. He considers his best race to be last year's Marlboro Cup aboard Forego. After that come two races in 1962. "I was on this horse of Widener's," says Shoe. "In the Belmont I went for a mile head to head with Baeza and won by an inch. And then in the Travers, with the same horse, I did the same thing with Ycaza and won by a nose. What was that horse's name?"
JOHNNY ON THE SPOT
As a freshman halfback last fall, Johnny (Lam) Jones averaged more than five yards a carry for the University of Texas football team. Even so, there are those who wonder why one of the nation's outstanding sprinters risks his track future by playing football.