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Fate Was Unkind to Sir Barton

If Alysheba wins the Belmont Saturday to become the 12th Triple Crown winner in history, it is hoped he enjoys a better future than the first winner.

Writes Paul Moran of Newsday: “Sir Barton, the first winner of the Triple Crown in 1919, raced on bad feet. Racing lore, always more interesting than history, tells us that he raced on a good grade of cocaine, so he did not care, particularly, that his feet hurt.

“A failure at stud, he eventually was donated to a U.S. Cavalry remount station in Nebraska, where he stood for a fee of $5. He died on a Wyoming farm.”

Add Alysheba: He will be racing without Lasix, which is banned in New York, and trainer Jack Van Berg, who also saddled Preakness winner Gate Dancer in 1984, was reminded that Gate Dancer finished sixth in the Belmont after being taken off Lasix.

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Said Van Berg: “Lasix didn’t have anything to with it. It was 95 degrees that day, Swale set a slow pace and led all the way, and we had no chance behind that pace. Gate Dancer sure ran well without it after that.

“Gate Dancer was a great horse, and Alysheba is a great horse.”

Trivia Time: Dr. Richard Raskind is the answer to what trivia question? (Answer below.)

For the Record: A number of people have called to say that Chris Spielman should have been included among those athletes who have been pictured on Wheaties boxes. The Ohio State linebacker made it when he was playing at Massillon (Ohio) High School.

After Bill Walton made a brief appearance for Boston in a game against Detroit, Larry Bird said, “When he got up and took his shirt off, we all got a rush.”

“Yeah,” said Walton, “a rush to cover.”

From Kurt Nimphius of the Detroit Pistons, claiming he has been misquoted in the press: “You know, I’m weird enough without people making up things to make me look even weirder.”

From Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant, listing the courtside celebrities at the Forum Tuesday night: “Before the game, Dyan Cannon stood on the sideline wearing a zebra-striped skirt obviously taken from a very small zebra.”

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After Oakland’s Mark McGwire touched New York’s Tommy John for a pair of home runs Sunday, John revealed that Dr. John McGwire, Mark’s father, was his dentist when he pitched for the Angels.

“You see all that?” John said, opening his mouth wide. “I’ve got $6,000 worth of gold in there, and it’s all in Mark’s father’s pocket.”

Said Dr. McGwire from his home in Claremont: “Tell Tommy he’s overdue for a checkup. I owe him a free cleaning. One for each home run.”

Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post has a word for the scandalous outbreak of home runs this year: “Gophergate.”

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UCLA track Coach Bob Larsen said he’s worried about the heat and humidity at Baton Rouge, La., for the NCAA championships. Funny thing is, the last time UCLA won the title, it was at Baton Rouge.

The year was 1973, and the weather was so brutal that sprint favorite Don Quarrie of USC, a native of Jamaica, collapsed from the heat and didn’t score a point.

Trivia Answer: That was the name of tennis player Renee Richards before her sex change.

Quotebook

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Kansas City pitcher Bret Saberhagen, on the difference in the fans from last year, when he was 7-12: “Everybody loves a winner. If guys are struggling, you can only root for them so long. I mean, who’s going to like the Sacramento Kings?”


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