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Jul 15, 2005

THRU THE BINOCULARS

By: JOHN PIESEN


The sellout crowd at the All Star Game sat on its collective hands for the entire

game -- with one notable exception.

In the top of the eighth, with the A.L. up 7-2, Alou, on second with a leadoff

double, stopped at third on a single to left center when he could have scored easily.

As a result, you could hear, plain as day, booing erupt from the stands.

Were they booing Alou for not hustling?

Unlikely.

Or were they booing because they had the over (9 1/2)?

Whatever, announcer McCarver made a point of mentioning the booing, and

defending Alou.

Obviously Tim made no mention of the total. Only Al Michaels would have

done that.

The bottom line is...booing over the total. That would be a first.

Speaking of baseball...

Why doesn't baseball investigate the Red Sox? Last Thursday night, Francona

 sat his left fielder, center fielder, shortstop and catcher at Baltimore. The Orioles

 won, 3-1.

Forget the gamblers. Doesn't Francona have a responsibility to the fans (a sellout)

who pay top dollar to see the real players?

Last Saturday, in case you missed it, the six division leaders all lost. The three

NL leaders were all shut out (by a combined 4-0), and the three AL leaders

scored a total of four runs.

In one Vegas line I saw this week, San Francisco is a shorter price to win the

World Series than San Diego. Can someone please explain that to me!

Shifting gears to racing...

We finally have a possible challenger to Afleet Alex in the 3-year-old division.

His name is Surf Cat, the winner of the Swaps Stakes last Saturday at Hollywood

(as picked here). The colt won by a pole despite being re-shod in the paddock,

 and blowing the first turn.

As for Afleet Alex, he worked five-eighths in a minute last Sunday at Belmont,

his first work since winning the Belmont. The colt is right on schedule for the

 Haskell Aug. 7 at Monmouth. The only problem is finding some horses to run

against him. Too bad Lost in the Fog is waiting for the King's Bishop at Saratoga.

A possible rival for Alex in the Haskell is a New Jersey-bred named Joey P. This

 guy is five-for-five (all sprints), and two weeks back he gave his trainer,

Frank Costa, the first graded stakes win of his career in the Jersey Shore at Monmouth.

This is significant because Costa is 72 years old, and has been training for 50 years.

 Not only was this Frank's first graded stakes win, I believe this was the first time

that Frank ever so much as ran a horse in a graded stake.

This is a great rags-to-riches story. I would love to see the mainstream media

 (ESPN?) take a swing at this.

As for Afleet Alex, trainer Ritchey was interviewed the other day on the

Delaware Park in-house TV show.

Asked if he had a good thing worth betting coming up, Ritchey paused and

said: "Yes, I do. August 7 at Monmouth."

I'll be at Delaware Park Saturday to see the Delaware Oaks, which, as I've said

 in this space before, will be the race of the year. Sis City, co-owned by

Joe Torre, vs. Round Pond going a mile and a 16th. If you want to drop by and

say hello, I'll be in the New Castle dining room on the third floor clubhouse.

Ritchey is running old friend Separato on the undercard, and I suspect he will

 take some beating.

As for the Oaks, there's no bigger Round Pond fan than me, but she'll have to

bring her "A" race to beat Sis City, who'll be hard to catch over a speed-favoring

racetrack.

And they sure aren't making it easy for Round Pond. She drew the eight-hole

 in an eight-horse field, and that first turn comes up awfully fast.

On Sunday, they will run the Delaware Handicap, and it pays to note that

jockey Bailey will give up a full card at Belmont that day to ride Island Sand for

 trainer Larry Jones.

First-time Bailey isn't the same as first-time Prado, but it's the next best thing.

After the Oaks at 3:54 Eastern, I'll shoot up the Turnpike to The Meadowlands for

 one of my favorite races -- the $1 million Meadowlands Pace. Rocknroll Hanover

will be the favorite, and he looks pretty much unbeatable. Maybe I'll box him in

 the exactas and trifectas with Village Jolt and Stonebridge Regal (1-3-5).

Finally, last week I started what I had hoped would be a new career as a

bloodstock agent.

But I got off to a rather shaky start.

I tried to arrange the sale of a Midwest-based 3-year-old filly. All was going

well until the potential buyer was willing to spend $50,000...and the seller

wanted $400,000.

Maybe I better stick to my day job.



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