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A Decision Worthy of the Preakness

Dennis Diaz, who stunned the Establishment by entering Spend A Buck in the Jersey Derby, probably would get a kick out of a 1963 column by Jim Murray on the Preakness. An excerpt:

“If the Triple Crown of horse racing--the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont--were sisters, the Preakness would be the one with buck teeth and glasses. No one would notice her at a party and her dance card would contain more blank spaces than her bridgework.

“The only way the Preakness can get its name in the history books is if the same horse wins it who wins the Derby and the Belmont. As far as the stud book is concerned, it’s just the eighth race at Pimlico on a Saturday afternoon. The Preakness winner is the vice president of the sport of kings. Anyone who can name the past five winners of the Preakness who were non-winners of the Kentucky Derby or the Belmont goes to the head of the class and gets a free subscription to Uncle Ben’s Can’t Lose Special.

“Part of the trouble is they don’t have a state drink in Maryland and their state song was not whipped up by Stephen Foster but by some German with the afternoon off and the use of the organ. ‘Maryland, My Maryland’ is known in Munich as ‘Oh, Christmas Tree’ and nothing more. Maryland has been on a losing streak since Barbara Fritchie.”

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Add Fritchie: Immortalized in a ballad by John Greenleaf Whittier, she reputedly hung out a Union flag in front of advancing Confederate troops at Frederick, Md., and got away with it when her life was spared by Gen. Stonewall Jackson. Rex Ellsworth, the Dennis Diaz of his day, shocked the traditionalists in 1955 by pulling Kentucky Derby winner Swaps out of both the Preakness and Belmont, but in 1963 he went exactly the other way, running Candy Spots in all the Triple Crown races, plus the Jersey Derby.

Candy Spots, after finishing third as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, won both the Preakness and the Jersey Derby, and then finished second in the Belmont.

The winner of the Kentucky Derby and Belmont that year was Chateaugay. He was a son of Swaps.

This one’s hard to believe, but Joe Frazier, 41, told the New York Times that he has to go through with a scheduled June 23 fight against former Canadian heavyweight champion Robert Cleroux, 47, in Montreal.

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“I have to fight,” Frazier said. “They gave me 50% of my purse as a deposit, and I’ve spent it already.”

Former Miami Dolphin guard Bob Kuechenberg said his only regret is that he didn’t get to play more years with Dan Marino and fewer with Larry Csonka.

“Csonka certainly shortened a lineman’s career,” he said. “Nowadays, it’s zip, zip, zip and they’re in the end zone doing acrobatics. With Csonka, we’d end up in the end zone, but it took us 15 or 16 plays and we were bleeding from every hole in the body when we were through.”

What’s-in-a-name dept.: There will be only one drawing for deer hunters wishing access to Camp Pendleton this coming season. The man who made the decision was the base’s wildlife biologist, Slader Buck.

Quotebook

Cincinnati catcher Dave Van Gorder, asked what he thought after hitting his first major league home run Wednesday night at Philadelphia: “I thought as I got to second, ‘Did I touch first.’ ”


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