Sep 16, 2005
THRU THE BINOCULARS
By: JOHN PIESEN
Like any one else, I'm proud of my accomplishments in life: for example,
1) Pitching the New York Post to three straight New York City newspaper
fast-pitch softball championships;
2) Beating George Steinbrenner, Oleg Cassini, and various governors, senators
and hockey icons in harness races at The Meadowlands and Yonkers Raceway
while flying the late Stanley Dancer's colors;
3) Nailing eight of 11 Kentucky Derby winners for the Post, and
4) My expertise in parallel parking.
But perhaps my greatest achievement was nailing 10 straight winners for the Post
over two glorious days at Aqueduct way back when on 1/5/77 and 1/6/77 at Aqueduct.
That was a world record for a trained professional handicapper at the time, and
remained a world record for these many years.
I was and am very proud.
How many times would I stop someone on the street, and say: "Hi, I'm John Piesen.
I once picked 10 straight winners at Aqueduct for the New York Post!"
Then it happened.
This morning, the October issue of American Turf Monthly arrived on my doorstep.
And there it was on page 13, right over an ad for Jim Hurley's new system, in a
piece by Mike "Lucky" English.
"On May 23 and 24, 1991, I (Lucky) picked 12 consecutive winners at Churchill
Downs in my tip sheet. That established a new world record. The previous record
of 10 consecutive winners was held by John Piesen of the New York Post. Piesen
selected 10 straight on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 1977, at Aqueduct.
"In his book, Seven Steps to Pari-Mutuel Profits, Piesen says the odds of picking 10
straight winners are 600,000 to 1. Odds are probably at least a million to one for
selecting 12 in a row."
I am crushed.
The only good news is that I managed to go 14 years thinking that I still held the
Congratulations, Mike "Lucky" English. You are indeed Cal Ripken to my Lou Gehrig.
You would think that was enough bad news for one morning.
But wait, there's more.
I got a phone call from Team Boss.
Bellamy Road was done for the year.
Next to Smarty Jones, Bellamy Road has been my favorite horse these past couple
of years...even though I tried to beat him in the Derby. But that's me.
The fellow from Team Boss told me that Bellamy Road aggravated the same splint
that cost BR four months, and this time, there was no chance he would run again
this year. Maybe at 4. But don't hold your breath. Like Smarty, Bellamy Road is worth
a lot more in stud than he is on the racetrack.
Speaking of Smarty, you no doubt recall that jockey Bailey helped to get him beat
when he ran Eddington at him early in the '04 Belmont.
Bailey even called trainer Servis the next day and apologized.
Well, if you saw the Gazelle last Saturday at Belmont Park, you saw history repeat.
Bailey used his longshot filly to bury the odds-on Leave Me Alone, and set the race
up for In the Zone, whose trainer is Zito, Bailey's best buddy.
Poor jockey Desormeaux never knew what hit him. These things don't happen at
And, of course, later in the day, Bailey was the direct beneficiary of trainer Dutrow's
strategy to run two rabbits at Commentator.
It was interesting that the crowd, such as it was, booed the rabbits as they crossed
the line, a half-mile behind the other three horses. I think they were really booing
more than the rabbits. I think they were booing NYRA for presenting such a farce.
Just think -- a five-horse Woodward, and the five horses came from two barns.
Now, Saint Liam (a nice horse; don't get me wrong) goes into the Breeders' Cup Classic
as the favorite. And if wins, he no doubt will be elected Horse of the Year over the
deserving Afleet Alex.
Does this script sound familiar?
Wait, there was yet another phone call this morning with yet more bad news.
Phil Mushnick from the New York Post was calling to tell me that WFAN -- the No. 1
talk show station in New York -- canned Sid Rosenberg, its morning sports yakker.
Besides being the best yakker on the station, Sid is a degenerate gambler. He's been
through rehab. But I guess rehab didn't work. Because on Sunday, when Sid was
assigned by WFAN to host a pre-game gabfest at Giants' Stadium, he was discovered
in Atlantic City!
This morning poor Sid was shown the door.
Sid reminds me of John Bothe, the long-time race caller at The Meadowlands. I worked
with John for years, and we shared an interest in sports gambling.
Bothe liked only favorites. The bigger the favorite the better. If the Bulls were -17
over Portland, John couldn't wait to give the points. So I was not completely surprised
when John's career came crashing down because of his addiction.
Sid was the same way. On the air or in print, he never met a favorite he didn't like.
And when a caller, or a colleague, liked the underdog, Sid would ridicule him.
Finally, remember Private Gift?
Last Monday, the filly was left in the gate in the Pennsylvania Oaks at Philly Park,
and all -- actually, most -- monies on her were refunded.
The next day, management, fearing litigation, cut a check for $60,000
(the winner's share) -- to Private Gift's owner, former ambassador to England Will Farish.
Since Private Gift didn't get to run last Monday, trainer Howard entered her in the
$60,000 Without Feathers Stakes Sunday afternoon at Monmouth Park.
Sent off at odds-on, Private Gift stopped on a dime at the quarter-pole, and didn't
hit the board!
Write your own punch line.
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