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EXHIBITIONS WITH A MESSAGE
The U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, which will be held in Los Angeles from June 17 to 24, won't just feature athletes who want to make it to the Summer Games; the Trials will be showcasing two events that might be considered Olympic hopefuls as well. They are the women's 5,000-and 10,000-meter runs, neither of which is an Olympic event. Indeed, until the Olympic program was changed effective with the 1984 Games, there had been no Olympic footrace for women longer than 1,500 meters. Women runners had hoped to add to the '84 Olympic program the 5,000, 10,000 and marathon, all of which are run by men, but had to settle for a 3,000 and a marathon. Consequently, the 5,000 and 10,000 at the Trials are scheduled to be mere exhibitions.
The situation conceivably still could change if a lawsuit brought by women runners from 27 countries succeeds in forcing Olympic officials to hold a women's 5,000 and 10,000 at the L.A. Olympics; presumably, the exhibitions at the U.S. Trials would then become true Olympic qualifying events. But such an outcome appears highly unlikely. In what was probably a terminal setback for their legal efforts insofar as the '84 Olympics are concerned, a U.S. District Court judge in L.A. last month denied the women the injunction they sought against Olympic officials.
Even as exhibitions, the 5,000 and 10,000 at the Trials could be interesting. Although Mary Decker, the premier U.S. middle-distance runner, figures to be too busy trying to make the team in the 1,500 and 3,000 to enter the 5,000 and 10,000, other leading competitors may well do so. These could include any of the three runners who will earn berths on the U.S. team at the women's marathon Trials this week in Olympia, Wash.; they might find it useful for training purposes to run the 10,000 in the track Trials. The events also figure to attract foreigners living in the U.S. who will have already made their national Olympic teams in the 3,000 and marathon. And they could draw athletes like Nancy Rooks, a Canadian who, because her ideal distances are 5,000 and 10,000 meters, is in danger of ending up without an Olympic event. The melancholy spectacle of Rooks and others like her running 5,000 and 10,000 exhibitions in the U.S. Trials could be an eloquent argument for the Olympic hierarchy to wake up and add the two events to the Olympic program, if not in 1984, then in 1988 for sure.
THE SMART MONEY
Just before the start of the Kentucky Derby, a lot of the smart money, some of which may even have gone to college, swung to Silent King, a colt ridden by Bill Shoemaker. An ad in the New York Daily News on Derby Day read: KENTUCKY DERBY WINNER. WILL BE A LONGSHOT TODAY. WE HAVE THE WINNER AND IT'S YOURS FOR ONLY $25. The ad urged punters to call a toll-free number and have their Visa or MasterCard ready. Those who availed themselves of the offer were given Silent King's name. As things turned out, because of all the late action on him, Silent King wasn't a long shot at all. Although he was 15-1 in Churchill Downs' morning line, he was a solid 9-2 choice at post time. In New York's Off Track Betting pool, he went off as the favorite at 7-2.
Perceptive Derby watchers will note that a horse other than Silent King won. Silent King, a stretch runner, was dead last in the field of 20 for more than half the race, and by the time he made his move, it was too little and too late, not to mention far too wide. He finished a well-beaten ninth, which was certainly not what the tout who placed the ad in the News had in mind. "We've got contacts all over the country," he had told callers. "We've talked to everybody." The fellow, who said he was located in Hollywood, Fla., invited one customer to keep in touch after cleaning up on the Derby, because "You're going to make money with me."
So now you know how the so-called smart money sometimes fares in horse racing. This message has been brought to you as a public service.
PLAYING IT AS IT LYES
Sports staffers at The Arizona Republic like to tell the one about the landlubbing copy editor who, coming across a reference in a story to the "fore and aft" locations on a bass boat, changed the words to "before and after." They also tell about the time a reporter interviewed Roy Rogers and wrote that he liked to "shoot craps and ski," when what the movie cowboy really said was that he liked to "shoot trap and skeet." Now they've got a new one to chuckle over. Seems the telephone rang during this year's Masters golf tournament and a young woman new to the sports department answered.