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Steve Cauthen has received his high school diploma. After finishing his third and most successful season—he had 87 wins—riding in Europe under contract to British thoroughbred owner Robert Sangster, Cauthen, who will be 22 on May 1, returned recently to his native Kentucky, enlisted the help of his former high school principal and began boning up for his high school equivalency test, which he took and passed two weeks ago at Northern Kentucky University. And why had he bothered? He answers simply, "It's something I've always wanted. I'm not sure anybody knew that."
In fulfilling his dream of graduating from high school, Cauthen showed the same sense of purpose he had when he schooled himself in yoga at 13 ("for concentration," he explained. "I knew I'd need that later") and when, after dropping out of Walton Verona High following his sophomore year to be a full-time jockey, he won $3 million in purses at 16. After that Cauthen became SI's Sportsman of the Year and rode Affirmed to the Triple Crown and then, at 18, he signed a lucrative contract to ride in England, where he has been a great favorite ever since. Through it all, Cauthen says, he took pains to immerse himself in books, magazines and newspapers other than the Daily Racing Form.
"I kept my mind working," Cauthen says. "That's why I was able to get my diploma or would even want to. And I've always been self-disciplined, especially in diet and exercise. That carried over into schooling. Most of the stuff stuck in my mind. I'd always liked math and I was always good in science. I figured I wouldn't lose that. History was the worst. I kept mixing up all those dates and facts."
Cauthen expresses no regrets about having taken a bit longer than usual to get his diploma. "I'm sure that what I missed by not being around kids my own age, I'll never make up for," he says. "I'll never go to the senior prom or homecoming. But I learned how to be self-sufficient and take responsibility long before most kids did. That's important." So, too, he hastened to add, is his new diploma. "Knowing I have it will make me much more confident about myself. I'm so proud of myself for passing that test."
THERE'S ALWAYS DePAUL
With roughly one-fourth of the NHL season still left, Montreal Gazette Sports Editor Red Fisher reports that the New York Islanders' Mike Bossy, the league's second-leading scorer, has given up all hope of overtaking the top man in the race, the Edmonton Oilers' Wayne Gretzky. Because the amazing Gretzky has 171 points, having last week broken his old record of 164 set a year ago, while runner up Bossy has only 101 points, that scarcely qualifies as news. What is news is that Bossy appears to have given up on next season as well, witness the following exchange:
"When do you think you'll catch Gretzky, Mike?"