If looking silly is going to be the objective -- well, they probably
could look even sillier, couldn't they? They could say they're not going
to Oaklawn Park because they don't like the corned beef sandwiches, or
they could complain the hot springs there are just too, too, too hot.
But for purposes of coruscating embarrassment, this will do, too, and
these connections will look silly enough: They're bypassing Friday's
Apple Blossom Handicap because they can't bear the thought, so sensitive
are they, that the Horse of the Year will have to carry 123 pounds.
Ta Wee, who in size rivaled a hood ornament and who, by the way, never
was Horse of the Year, won the 1970 Interborough Handicap while racing
under the burden of 142 pounds, 29 more than the runner-up. But Havre De
Grace can't carry 123 pounds in the Apple Blossom? Just to get this
straight: The little Ta Wee carried 142 pounds, but the big and powerful
Havre De Grace can't, or shouldn't, carry 123? Well, sometimes the
piffle gets in the way of the twaddle, and this, I suspect, is one of
John Nerud and Dr. Fager were in transit, traveling across the country,
from Aqueduct to Hollywood Park, when the trainer learned there was some
confusion about the weights for the Californian Stakes. He had been
told his great speedster would carry -- what was it, 124 pounds? But Dr.
Fager, Nerud now learned, in transit, would have to lug 130 pounds
around Hollywood Park.
"It won't make any difference," Nerud said, without hesitation. And he
was absolutely right: The weight didn't make any difference. Dr. Fager
won by three lengths while carrying 14 pounds more than the runner-up,
who happened to be the champion Gamely.