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Feb 11, 2005



I have to make a confession. Until yesterday, I have never watched TVG or HRTV, the horse racing channels. I get all the racing (and simulcasting) I need at the racetrack. That said, yesterday I watched the two racing channels for about two hours, and I left with the biggest headache of my life. There is not enough advil in the world to cure this.

Don"t these guys ever stop talking? I thought the Theismann crew on

Sunday night football was bad...but these guys! They never shut up.

The horses are loading in the gate, and they"re still giving picks. Who

 cares already?

The highlight (lowlight?) came at Aqueduct. There was a $400,000

carryover in the pick six, and one of the TVG yappers said he was alive

with three horses, but wouldn"t name them. He also said Talkin Tough,

 the main speed on a speed track, would be tough, and he wished he had

 him on his ticket, but he didn"t.

Talkin Tough led all the way, and beat one of the talker"s horses by a

 neck, costing the talker $140,000 and change. The horse had bore out

 in deep stretch, forcing jockey Elliott on the runnerup (whom the talker had)

to change course to the inside. The stews put up the inquiry, which usually

 means -- especially in the last race in New York -- that the winner was

coming down. But this time the winner stood, and the TVG guy could be

 seen on camera slamming a folding chair to the floor. Kind of like a poor

man"s Bobby Knight.

As for me, I was happy. I had given out the $29.80 exacta on my

phone service.

A few moments later, I flipped to HRTV for the eighth race at Gulfstream Park.

 Again, I had a rooting interest. Cloakof Vagueness was my best bet on

 the phone service, at 8-1 no less.

After a rough trip, Cloakof Vagueness settled into a stretch-long duel with

a Bailey 8-1 shot. They hit the line together, much too close to call. Except

 the talkers said they knew for certain that my horse won. They were sure.

Better them than me. I had no idea who won.

Ten minutes and five commercials later, they posted the results of the

 photo, and the talkers were right. My horse did win. Oh, lucky day. But I

 would have loved to have seen a photo to confirm it. We never saw the photo.

Oh, yes. The talkers called Pat Day on my horse when it was Eibar Coa.

 Let"s not let the facts get in the way of a good Day-Bailey duel.

A few minutes later, HRTV showed a race from Santa Anita, and a horse

 named Cream Donut Keith won it. At no point in the non-stop prattel did

 they point out that the horse was named for Philadelphia Park announcer

 Keith Jones. Obviously, they didn"t know.

This was big for Jones because last year he was telling anyone who would

 listen that Smarty Jones was named for him.

Meantime, back at Oaklawn, which I call home for three months, an

 interesting football-related story occurred today.

Walt Coleman, a veteran NFL referee (the one with the southern accent), owns

 horses, mostly Arkansas-breds, and he has a maiden named Rowdy Banquet

 in the afternoon"s second race.

You know Coleman. He"s the ref who said Tom Brady fumbled in the Snow

 Bowl at Foxboro three years back. His call was overturned by instant play,

 the Pats kept the ball, and went on to win. That"s the game that started the

 Pats" dynasty. This year, Coleman finished his season calling the Rams-Hawks

 wild card game.

I walked over to the paddock to talk football with Coleman. But he wasn"t there.

 Strange. He"s got the favorite at a big-time trackand he"s nowhere to be

 found. I know he"s not doing the Super Bowl. Very strange.

I did some research and I found out why Coleman was a no-show.

You won"t believe this:

The NFL has a rule that stipulates that a league official may not attend a

racetrack during the course of the NFL season, up to and including the Pro Bowl!

Let"s see, here. The NFL allows its officials to own and run horses at

pari-mutual racetracks...but ban its officials from attending a track.
In other words, Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunctions are perfectly OK. But

 an official going to a horse track is not!

Oh, yes. Rowdy Banquet, wide throughout from post 10, finished a distant

 fourth as the 7-5 favorite. And the horse got claimed by Steve Asmussen!

Finally, here are my picks for Saturday"s Magna Pick Five. Don"t forget this

comes from the same guy who nailed a $21,000 superfecta on the phone line

 last Saturday in the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita.

Race 1: (Laurel, Race 9)

#8 Legal Control
#7 Hoist Away
#4 Monster Chaser

Race 2: (Santa Anita, Race 4)

#8 Latin Luminosa
#3 Jenny Evelyn
#6 Shoot for Gold

Race 3: (Gulfstream, Race 9)

#2 Eddington
#4 Roses in May
#5 Saint Liam

Race 4: (Santa Anita, Race 5)

#7 Scotchwater
#8 Smuggler"s Run
#4 Kid Ralston

Race 5: (Gulfstream, Race 10)

#8 High Fly
#5 Criminal Mind
#1 G P"s Black Knight

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