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WINNERS AND LOSERS
Among the athletes who offered themselves to the voters on election day were Dizzy Trout, the old Detroit Tigers' pitcher, George Mikan, the "Mr. Basketball" of the Minneapolis Lakers, and two former football coaches at the University of Washington, Howie Odell and Johnny Cherberg.
Well, Mikan lost his race for Congress and Trout his try for sheriff of Wayne County, Mich. But Odell was voted in as a county commissioner out in Washington and John Cherberg had the rich and rare pleasure of being lieutenant governor of the state whose university not so long ago briskly dispensed with his services.
We are a little chary of overdrawing the lessons from these examples, but it is tempting to suggest that if you want your boy to get ahead in politics, forget about basketball and baseball and teach him to be a football player. Or, of course, a golfer.
Olympians were dropping by the hundreds from Pacific skies into Melbourne, but one day last week—Tuesday to be exact—the better part of Australia forgot its role of host to give full and undivided attention to a sport of another breed: a horse race. No ordinary horse race, mind you, but the two-mile classic known as the Melbourne Cup which, if you can picture it, is a sort of Kentucky Derby, World Series and Rose Bowl game all wrapped up into a handful of minutes. Horse racing, come to think of it, is a sort of religion in Australia. That is, everybody participates, to the extent that an estimated $980 million was bet on the ponies in 1955 (in the U.S., whose population is 20 times that of Australia's, the total bet, legal and illegal, was perhaps $7 billion).
Certainly no race anywhere holds the population in such frenzied grip as the Melbourne Cup. A fairly authoritative legend has it that in 1951, for example, a judge in Newcastle District Court looked at his watch, halted sessions in the midst of a larceny case, and ordered Exhibit A—a stolen radio—tuned in on the Cup race. This time, for the 95th running, 90,000 fans (including some 400 visiting Olympians) poured out to Flemington race course, a sprawling 316 acres of reclaimed swampland on the banks of the Maribyrnong River, to drink in the springtime sun, wash down hot meat pies and chilled oysters with beer and focus on the 22-horse field.
Australian eyes were chiefly on the favorite, a New Zealand-owned gelding named Red Craze, winner of eight races this season. In fact, Red Craze had become such a center of attraction that when his owner, Mrs. A. B. Bradley, received the usual threatening letters a cordon of armed guards was placed around his stable. Another circumstance worthy of respectful note in the U.S., where a weight of more than 130 pounds on a horse is traditionally considered brutal and crushing, is that the favorite was asked to carry, over the two-mile distance, 143 pounds.
But when all bets were down Red Craze wasn't quite up to it. He lost in a photo finish to the 15-to-l long shot Evening Peal (weighted at 116 pounds), who became the seventh mare in close to a century to win the Cup.