GOT THE HORSE RIGHT WHERE?
The most famous half-dozen thoroughbreds of the past couple of years have been Affirmed, Alydar, Forego, Seattle Slew and Lebón-Cinzano or, if you prefer, Cinzano-Lebón. Cinzano was a superior horse who raced in Uruguay before being brought to this country where, presto, he ran as a ringer under the name of an inferior import, Lebón, and paid $116 for $2 at Belmont Park on Sept. 23, 1977. The man indicted for masterminding the coup was Dr. Mark Gerard, a well-known racetrack veterinarian who once attended Secretariat.
Last week Gerard's trial concluded in Nassau County Court in Mineola, N.Y., with sentencing scheduled for November. Gerard was found guilty of two misdemeanors, for false entries "in a contest of speed," but was not convicted on felony charges of stealing Cinzano and attempting to defraud Lloyds of London of $137,000 in insurance. Gerard could get two years in jail, but the verdict is certain to be appealed by the vet's attorney, F. Lee Bailey.
No thinking person, however, expects the Lebón-Cinzano case to evaporate. Gerard will fight to have his practicing license reinstated, while the New York Racing Association will fight to keep him barred from its grounds at Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga because of the scandal brought to racing by the Lebón-Cinzano switch. And Cinzano is still around. He is currently owned by Jack Morgan, the young trainer in charge of Cinzano when he was entered in two races under the name of Lebón. Morgan hopes to race Cinzano again, and should that come to pass, the expected crush of curiosity seekers will only sustain the embarrassment felt by the guardians of the breed.
NEW USE FOR OLD CHESTNUTS
Though it's a bit like closing the barn door after the horse is gone, Belmont officials would have been able to detect the Lebón-Cinzano switch beforehand if the horses had been registered in a new identification system. Or such is the contention of Equine Services, Inc. of Broom-field, Colo., a company that has come up with an electronic scanning device that can positively identify any horse by its chestnuts, those calluses on the inside of the legs. Like fingerprints, no two chestnuts are alike; moreover, chestnuts do not fade as do tattoos or brands.
Known as Easy Scan, the device is the brainchild of Vern Taylor, who began wondering about ways to identify horses after a mare of his was stolen in 1971. Easy Scan consists of a portable scanning gun and a computer pack, sells for $3,950 and is being marketed to veterinarians and others who can chestnut-print horses for a suggested $35 fee. All the data is fed to a computer bank in Broomfield, where it is accessible to law-enforcement agents and racing officials.
DOCTOR ON CALL
It was not the kind of save that goes into the record books, but when Doc Medich, the Texas Ranger pitcher, leaped into the stands at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium last month and revived a heart-attack victim by administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and heart massage, his performance could not have been more impressive. Indeed, the reaction was so widespread that Medich, who holds a medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh, agreed to conduct classes in cardiopulmonary resuscitation for Ranger players and front-office personnel.
Apparently, not all his students were paying close attention. On a recent commercial flight to Milwaukee, the Rangers were sitting in the coach section with the other passengers when the plane encountered some severe turbulence. "Don't worry about a thing, folks," Catcher John Ellis announced. "We're all CPR-trained on this team. If anything happens, we'll beat on your lips and blow on your chest. You'll be all right."