Apr 18, 2012


ESPN decided to televise a 4 1/2 hour run up to the l982 Kentucky Derby and I was lucky enough to play a role, a much larger role than I anticipated.

Our host was Jim Simpson, a big name lured away from the networks. His travel plans were delayed and he did not arrive at Churchill Downs until an hour or so until we went live on air.

ESPN's Lou Palmer and I prepped as best we could while waiting for Jim's arrival from a tennis match.

"I don't know much about horses," He said '"You two are going to have to carry the ball."

Sen. J.E. Jumonville provided the most press attention Derby week. He paid $750,ooo to New Orleans grocer Joe Dorignac
for a gelding named Real Dare to run in the Derby. He then professed to know where Real Dare's testicles could be re-attached in order to impregnate mares.

The Senator provided further entertainment when squiring a buxom ecdysiast
around the venerable Downs. If you are old enough you might remember Louisiana governor Earl Long's similar escapade a few years earlier with Bourbon Street
favorite Blaze Starr. Real Dare did not win the Kentucky Derby, trudging home last of 19.

Windfields Farm general manager Joe Thomas had quite a laugh when it was suggested that the home of Northern Dancer might add a new member to its stallion corps in the form of John Henry.

Lou and I divvied up the interviews and my next assignment was race car champ A. J. Foyt. He was to meet me at a certain hour at the old covered paddock. I began to fret when AJ had not shown up yet. Then I heard some heated discussion between a security guard and a red-faced Foyt who was denied access and we never did the interview.

We signed off an hour before the Derby, amply replenished with food, drink and a racing form. Gato Del Sol looked playable in the big race at 21-to-1.

Apr 15, 2012


Amid the commotion surrounding Hansen's appearance in the Blue Grass Stakes comes the "news" that Patrick Valenzuela will grace us with his presence once again in the jockey's quarters.

Dr. Hansen's unorthodox pursuit of the Kentucky Derby includes debate on the merits of a paint daubed juvenile champion to jazz up the paddock scene at Keeneland. By race time the issue had "all come out in the wash", as it were. The whole exercise was a lot more interesting than P Val.

Come to think of it, the renegade jockey was involved in a Breeders' Cup race years ago that, if you can stretch a point, had something to do with paint and a horse owner.
That was the inaugural Juvenile Fillies at Hollywood Park and P Val finished first aboard Fran's Valentine, only to be disqualified for wracking up the field at 74-to-1 aboard Earl Scheib's filly. Outstandingly inherited the victory by way of the stewards, a harbinger perhaps of the scrum that would take place a few hours later beweenWild Again, Slew of Gold , and Gate Dancer.

And the paint angle? Earl Scheib was noted for his nationwide paint shops and the slogan that he would paint any car, any color for $99. He had to paint a lot of cars to make up for P Val's indiscretion.

Fernando Toro was so incensed that he and the younger rider nearly came to blows, quite a feat as Chilean Toro was a caballero noted for his decorum.

I was working television back then and witnessed the near fisticuffs. Toro won the next race with Royal Heroine for Robert Sangster and smiles returned to the English faces.

Earl Scheib, the Paint King of Green Thumb Farm, stormed out of the track and left with his entourage.

I take the Libertarian view when it comes to the current discussion on what constitutes suitable deportment. We have been beating the bushes for some time now trying to attract new owners with not a lot of success. Let's not scare them away.