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HOPES UP, AND DASHED
The Hopeful at Saratoga is the first major 2-year-old race at a distance as far as 6� furlongs and is a showcase of potentially classic colts, hence its name. Last year's winner was Affirmed, who edged Alydar. Last Saturday's Hopeful drew seven entrants, none of whom had ever finished out of the money in 26 starts—an extraordinary record. The favorites were General Assembly, the best son of Secretariat yet; Tim the Tiger, unbeaten in four starts and winner of Monmouth Park's recent $100,000 Sapling Stakes; and Jose Binn, a $14,000 buy who had earned $161,317 by winning three of five races, including the Arlington-Washington Futurity.
At 11 a.m. on race day, Tim the Tiger suffered a minor leg cut in his stall and was scratched. Tim the Tiger had been in the sixth post position next to General Assembly, so Jose Binn moved over from the No. 7 post to fill the empty spot. When the gate opened, Jose Binn broke inward slightly, and General Assembly bobbled. General Assembly's front hooves dug into Jose Binn's rear legs, and Jose Binn had to be pulled up by Jockey Angel Cordero.
General Assembly recovered and went on to win impressively over his remaining opposition by 6� lengths for his third straight victory. Jose Binn had to be removed from the track in a horse ambulance and will never race again, though he may be saved and eventually be able to stand as a stallion.
Moreton Binn, owner of Jose Binn, nearly scratched his horse just before the race because his wife had a premonition that something would go wrong. He said, "I'm so sick over this thing I barely know where I am. She kept telling me to take him out, that something was going to happen. Cordero was convinced that Jose Binn was going to be his Triple Crown horse for 1979."
General Assembly, of course, is now on his way to becoming a major racing attraction, both because he looks so much like his popular sire and because he is undefeated. His next start will be in the Cowdin at Belmont on Sept. 27, and then probably the Champagne Stakes on Oct. 8. His trainer, LeRoy Jolley, said, "We've gone slowly with General Assembly and we have no plans to rush him. Both Secretariat and General Assembly won their first stakes late—in August at Saratoga."
Both late, both great?
BLUE MEN IN BLUE
When the presidents of the American and National Leagues last week asked for and got a temporary restraining order directing striking umpires back to work after a one-day walkout—the second in the history of major league baseball—the owners, who have criticized players for putting the game into the courts, did just that. In rejecting the Umpires Association's request to discuss the terms of their March 1977 agreement, AL President Lee MacPhail and NL President Chub Feeney said, "The agreement is complete, and there is no obligation to negotiate changes or additions."
"It was signed in March, all right," said Bob Engel, president of the Umpires Association. "By our lawyer at that time. I tried all year to get a copy of it. I kept asking him, 'When are we going to see this document?' When we finally saw it this spring, it wasn't what we had agreed to. Always before, we all sat down around a table, talked, read the agreement and signed it. Nobody signed this except that lawyer. I don't even know if he had the right to sign. We're umpires, not lawyers. I would think that the leagues would respect us enough to listen to us."