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Dec 02, 2005

RACING TODAY

By: JOHN PIESEN


I'm not suggesting that you feel sorry for Bob McNair. Far from it. After all, the fellow owns half the oil wells in west Texas. And, as an afterthought, he owns the most valuable piece of property in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. - the old Greentree estate south of the racetrack on Nelson Avenue.

And, oh yes, McNair also owns an NFL team.and a major thoroughbred stable.

That said, ol' Bob has to be reeling over the events of the past weekend.

On Saturday

Bob and John, a 2-year-old bred and owned by McNair, was 1-5 against four outclassed souls in the $100,000 Real Quiet Stakes at Hollywood Park.

With Victor Espinoza on cruise control, Bob and John took the lead turning for home in the 1 1/16-mile race, and drew off to win by 10 lengths.

But just a minute!

The stewards saw something.

They saw Bob and John cross over in front of Kissin Knight while making the lead.

Inquiry!

Hold all tickets!

After long deliberations, the stewards, in their infinite wisdom, decided that Bob and John fouled Kissin Knight, and since Kissin Knight lost the place by a nose to Genre, they had no choice to take down Bob and John, and place him third.

Every 40 years we get a call like this. Back in the mid-'60s, the Garden State Park stewards took down Dr. Fager in the Jersey Derby after the good doctor cruised home by 15 lengths.

Garden State Park is now a shopping mall.

Can Hollywood Park be far behind?

Forget McNair for a moment. How 'bout the poor slobs who bet Bob and John?

An aside here.

The Real Quiet Stakes was named for the horse who lost the '98 Belmont (and the Triple Crown) by a dirty nose to Victory Gallop. Victory Gallop was ridden brilliantly that day by Gary Stevens, the same Gary Stevens who announced his retirement last weekend.

Thus Gary Stevens and Pat Day, who forever will be linked by their congratulatory handshake while pulling up after the 1995 Kentucky Derby, wound up retiring the same year - 10 years later.

Isn't life fun?

On Sunday

The Houston Texans, the NFL team owned by McNair, were a three-point home dog to the St. Louis Rams.

This has not been a good year for the Texans. They were 1-9 going into Sunday, and they were twice blown out on national TV, prompting the ESPN suits to say the Texans will never again be welcomed on that network.

As we all know, the Texans built a three-TD lead against the Rams, and were still 10 in front with 30 seconds to go. That's when rookie third-string Ryan Fitzpatrick from Harvard launched a 43-yard TD strike to Isaac Bruce to cut the deficit to three (27-24).

The Rams then recovered the onside kick, Jeff Wilkins connected with a 47-yard FG, and Fitzpatrick and Kevin Curtis hooked up for a 56-yard completion in OT to give the Rams a 33-27 victory.

McNair? Maybe he was crying on the outside. But you can bet he was laughing on the inside because the loss gives him a leg up on a certain USC running back.

Forget McNair. How 'bout the poor slobs who bet Houston?

This had to be the toughest beat of the year.

But here's a close second --

It happened at the Staples Center, down the road from Hollywood Park.

The total on Lakers-Nets last night was 192. Certainly the "under" was the way to go.

At the quarter, the Nets led, 26-10.

At the half, the Nets led 36-28.

An hour later, the Lakers scored 10 points in the last minute of quarter four to forge a 91-91 tie.

And the Nets won in OT - 102-96!

Then of course there were the folks who played any combination of the Redskins, Packers, Tampa Bay, Seattle and New York Jets.

Did you notice that the Cowboys and the Giants lost this weekend by the same score (24-21) on an OT field goal -- after blowing field goals to win the game.

And did you notice that the favorites went 11-4 over the weekend? It should have been 12-3, but the public somehow made the Jets the late fave.

This was one game the zebras owned from start to finish.

The Saints had four possessions in the second half, and three of the four ended with holding calls. Somehow, they managed to matriculate the ball downfield 75 yards for the game-winning TD without a holding call.

Then again, the Jets got robbed twice: 1) the overturned TD in quarter two, and 2) the intentional grounding in quarter four.

Why do coaches manage to ask their field goal kickers to kick from angles rather than from the middle of the field?

One final football thought -

That was a $13 million TD drive Notre Dame executed in the last two minutes against Stanford. The drive - coming against a prevent defense - puts ND in the $15 million Fiesta Bowl rather then the $2 million Gator Bowl.

No wonder ND's favorite color is green!



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