Thus this year's Derby, already a large, confusing affair, suddenly appears even larger and more confusing than before. As the days dwindle down, the Blue Grass Stakes winner, Strike The Gold, seems particularly promising. So does Hansel, off his smashing nine-length victory in the April 21 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland. Corporate Report, only now rounding into form, was bred to win the race. And last year's juvenile champ, Fly So Free, certainly merits attention.
Then there's Best Pal, John Mabee's resourceful, well-seasoned, extremely consistent bay, who finished just half a length behind Dinard in the Santa Anita Derby. A gelding like Dinard, Best Pal was probably a trifle short on conditioning for the mile-and-an-eighth Santa Anita. The feeling here is that he won't be short for the mile and a quarter in the Derby. Best Pal is the choice this time.
The winner of a race around the world sails into port
At 1:11 a.m. on April 23, the harbor in Newport was alive with the sounds of the Marseillaise. That's because the first finisher in the third BOC Challenge, a four-leg, 27,000-mile solo circumnavigation of the globe that had started in Newport on Sept. 15, 1990, was Christophe Auguin, 31, of France, sailing the 60-foot yacht Groupe Sceta.
After seven months—of which 120 days, 22 hours, 36 minutes and 35 seconds were actual sailing time—Auguin was greeted by boat horns, camera flashes and his country's anthem blaring from the speaker of a van on the dock. With barely a day's growth of beard, a tanned face and a smiling nonchalance, Auguin looked like a weekend sailor. In fact, he had survived two collisions with whales, 10 days of sailing through an iceberg field in the Antarctic Ocean, a downed mast near Bermuda and 70-knot winds, not to mention the challenge of countryman Alain Gautier.
On March 30, when Auguin began the final leg of the race, from Punta del Este, Uruguay, he was in second place, some 21 hours behind Gautier, who was sailing Generali Concorde. In a race in which the difference between first and second place is often days, it appeared as though the finish might be a real show. But a few days out of Punta del Este, a squall ripped Gautier's mainsail almost in half and tore his spinnaker. He limped across the line 38 hours after Auguin.
There was one tragedy, and nearly another, during the race. In Sydney, after the second leg, a Japanese sailor, Yukoh Tada, committed suicide a few days after withdrawing from the race. On the third leg, a South African sailor, Bertie Reed, daringly rescued his countryman John Martin after Martin's boat was damaged by an iceberg. Of the 25 boats that began the race, only 18 have finished or should finish in the next few weeks.
Auguin offhandedly dismissed the travails of his voyage. When asked why he had undertaken such a hazardous, lonely trip, he replied, "It is the tactics and the strategy of a race that I enjoy so much. It is the game of it, and, of course, the challenge." Added Auguin, "To race, one must be a little foolish."