Just landed in beautiful Hot Springs, Arkansas... just in time to see a lot of long faces. You see this is the heart of Cowboys' Country, and the locals aren't taking too kindly to New Yorkers in the wake of 21-17.
I'm not too sure I even want to show up at the gala crawfish boil tonight.
But otherwise things look good. Ran into trainers D. Wayne, Bob Holthus and Larry Jones, and track announcer Terry Wallace, who reminded me that he is the Cal Ripkin of horse racing.
"I've called 26,745 Oaklawn races in a row," he said, "an all-time record. And, starting Friday, I'll get to break my own record every day."
Oaklawn Park indeed opens for business Friday afternoon with a 1 p.m. first post. There will be nine races, featuring the $50,000 Dixieland Stakes, and 50-cent corned beef sandwiches at least until they dry up. We're not talking Harold's or Stage corned beef here, but they're not bad. Certainly worth half a buck.
Trainer Jones clearly hasn't lost a yard off his fast ball since the Hard Spun salad days a few months back.
He was discovered telling Jerry Hissam, the agent for Calvin Borel, the following story.
First a reminder --
We all remember that Borel, riding Street Sense, came from a mile back to beat the Jones-trained Hard Spun in the Kentucky Derby last May.
As Jones tells it:
"Last week I was tooling down I-10 in Louisiana in my horse-trailer with the Hard Spun bumper sticker, and in my rear-view mirror I'm seeing an old, battered pickup trying to pass me. Now, this is a narrow road, and I'm saying to myself what the hell is he doing?
"Finally, the track pulls out, comes alongside me, and the driver looks up at me. It's that damn Borel. And he gives me this stupid grin as he goes past.
"He just felt I guess that he had to pass Hard Spun again." Couple of final notes --
Hard to believe that Gasper Moschera, the subject of last week's column, is not in the Racing Hall of Fame. In fact, he hasn't even been nominated. Remind me to do so.
All Moschera did was dominate New York racing in the '80s and '90s.
And condolences to the family of Johnny Podres.
Growing up in Brooklyn, I know first-hand the hero he was and forever will be in Dodgertown.