When SI contributor Robert Cantwell told us about a horseplayer who said he used ESP to pick winners instead of the Racing Form or a hatpin, we told him to accompany the psychic to a track and see how he did. The results can be found in Win, Place and Glow on page 32.
As word of Cantwell's yarn got around, certain members of the staff—men and women with an otherwise healthy grip on their mental faculties—began surfacing with all manner of stories about their experiences with the spirit world. For example, SI secretary Anne Comer Pettigrew insists that she knew actor Al Pacino in a previous life and believes that she is destined to meet him again in this one—"as soon as I get my karma together." Pacino, meanwhile, is appearing on Broadway in The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel, which our born-again secretary has seen seven times while waiting.
Reporter Daphne Hurford recalls growing up in a house in Harrison, N.Y. in which she frequently heard the disembodied voice of the previous owner, a middle-aged woman who committed suicide. Hurford now lives in Manhattan with her two cats, Nooks and Crannies, one of which she says she can summon from one room to another psychokinetically.
Copyreader Sylvia Staub had a brush with the spirit world while living in London in the '50s. She and a girl friend constructed a makeshift Ouija board, using a wineglass as a psychic indicator. They were startled when a spirit, who identified himself as Abluck, a 60-year-old German gentleman, became infatuated with Staub's friend. "Sometimes the glass would skate over and rub my girl friend's arm and then spell out, 'You're beautiful,' " reports Staub. She does not say whether the wineglass was empty or full.
Senior Reporters Demmie Stathoplos and Denise Rogers are infrequent bettors at the track, going to the windows only when they feel they are getting their information straight from the horse's mouth. Stathoplos was at Keeneland three years ago for the Blue Grass Stakes when she locked glances with a horse that was circling the paddock. "How often does a horse make eye contact with you?" she says. Whatever the answer, Demmie got her bet down, the horse went off at 14 to 1 and closed with a rush to win.
Rogers, who claims, "Horses talk to me," says she is negotiating for the rights to collaborate with Seattle Slew on an autobiography called How I Won the Triple Crown, As Told to Denise Rogers. She, too, had an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with a horse—a 12-to-1 shot, in this case—that sent her scurrying to the betting windows and home a winner. On another occasion Rogers was strolling through the barns at the harness track in Goshen, N.Y. when a horse stuck its head out of a stall and nudged her. "I figured he was trying to tell me something, so I bet him," says Rogers. "I was the only one in our group who cashed a ticket all day." Needless to say, the others never had a ghost of a chance.