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Nov 20, 2003

Piesen Cues

By: John Piesen

The Game of the Year in college football?

No question, it was Texas 43, Texas Tech 40, a four-hour marathon last Saturday

night from Austin.

The Play of the Year?

Same game.

Here’s the scenario:

Texas, No. 5 in the nation, and playing for its BCS lives, was leading, 35-34. Texas Tech ball. First

and 10 on the Texas 11. Two minutes to go.

All Texas Tech had to do was sit on the ball, run clock, kick the winning field goal on fourth down.

Texas knew that too. So when the Texas Tech fullback took the handoff, and hit the line, the Texas

defense parted like the Red Sea, and let the guy go into the end zone untouched.

It was obvious Texas let him go. Nobody tried to lay a hand on him. It was brilliant strategy. It gave Texas

its only chance to win.

It goes without saying that the announcers didn’t have a clue what happened. “Poor defense,” one guy


No matter. Texas Tech missed the two-point conversion, and led, 40-35.

One problem. Texas was left with two minutes on the clock.

And of course Texas matriculated the football downfield for the winning touchdown, nailed the

two-pointer, and won, 43-40, to keep its BCS hopes alive.

And, as I said, none of the announcers had a clue what Texas did, and neither did the AP guy who

wrote the game lead.

And I would presume that if anyone dared to ask the Texas coach if he let the Texas Tech guy

score, he’d probably deny it. He’d fear the wrath from the NCAA.

Speaking of Texas, the World Champion Spurs, in the midst of an East Coast road trip, went into

Philadelphia one night last week. Instead of pick ‘em, the Spurs were minus 6 ½. because the entire

Philly frontcourt was out.

The Spurs led by 10-12 points for much of the game, but the Sixers rallied to win going away as

Iverson made his free throws.

Let’s take a minute and look at this.

One one side, you have the world champions, led by Tim Duncan. People pay $100 a ticket to watch

them play. They visit the White House. They are national heroes. Superstars. The average salary is

$8-$10 million or so, give or take a few mill.

On the other side, you have Iverson, and four guys they picked up off the waiver wire.

Sorry about taking so long to get to the point, but this is what I think:

I want to know how much difference is there between NBA guys making millions and the guys

playing for laughs on playgrounds in New York and Philly.

And most times you’ll get more effort from the sandlot guys.

Shifting gears, there is life after the Breeders’ Cup in racing, thanks mainly to the

Pick Six.

On Wednesday at Aqueduct, there is a 127K carryover, so the least I can do is offer up some plays.

All six races (the first four for fillies) are wide-open with not a single to be found.

Race Four: First-starters More Than Honor and Elegant Paradox have to be used, as well as

Rumba Numba, second in both Belmont starts despite slow starts. That’s 5, 7 and 10.

Race Five: Queen’s Jubilee broke her maiden despite missing the start, earninga race-high

Beyer. Lightning Lyla back to earth after wide trip in stake. That’s 5 and 7.

Race Six: Coconut Martini ran in a stake first time out of the box, and ran very well for fourth. Switches

to Chavez. Andriana a firster from the red-hot Bazeos barn. That’s 8 and 9.

Race Seven: Mary Eppler ships Kiati from Maryland off a second with richer. The filly broke her

maiden here, but plenty of holes in resume. Figures first or last. Valid Pro is the one to catch. Flying

Pickle will beflying late. That’s 5, 7 and 9.

Race Eight: Last time Chilly Rooster saw the Big A, he was beating up on maidens by nine lengths.

The stretch-out inside speed from The Chief. The New York-bred Rogue Agent may not bounce.

Two-speed number? That’s 2 and 5.

Race Nine: Hussar, second in the ’02 Tremont, has the “for sale” sign up, but you have to use him.

Lake shipper Barbara’s Jewel must be caught. Grand Player crushed maiden-claimers in the mud.

Might be this good. That’s 4, 6 and 11.

MORE PIESEN CUES: Break out the brass band for three of racing’s brightest stars. First star

goes to Michael Dickinson. The Mad Genius did it again, bringing back A Huevo off a virtual four-year

absence to knock off Eclipse candidate Shake You Down in the De Francis. Second star goes to

Julie Krone, who merely went 2-for-3 in her first day back in New York in five years, and received

two rousing ovations. And the third star goes to Joe Hirsch, who wraps up a glorious 55-year writing

career next week.

Tis true I’ve had my differences with all three, notably Dickinson.

A year after sending my kids a personalized Christmas card, Dickinson won a big West Virginia

stake with A Huevo, whose owner, Mark Hopkins, is Andy Beyer’s main man. But A Huevo was

later disqualified by the West Virginia Racing Commission for a drug positive, and the purse

forfeited. I broke the story for the Form, and when I called Dickinson to get his side, Iron Mike

went ballistic, blamed me for everything but the Lindbergh baby, and slammed the phone in my ear.

Talk about killing the messenger!

But all is forgiven.

Right, Michael?

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