Laffit Pincay Jr. is two years older than George Foreman. . . .
He was inducted into racing's Hall of Fame 20 years ago. . . .
But he is going to the whip in a quest to become the world's winningest jockey, and nobody is more surprised than Pincay. . . .
"With my weight problem, I thought I would retire at 33," Pincay said. . . .
Pincay, 48, rode his 8,228th winner at Santa Anita Sunday, is 605 behind Bill Shoemaker's record, and at his present pace figures to break the mark sometime around New Year's Day of 1999. . . .
"I think I'm riding as well as I ever have," said Pincay, who no longer gets his pick of mounts. "I know how to take care of myself better now. My diet is better. Also, I put less pressure on myself." . . .
His battle with the scales is legendary. He rides at 117 pounds, but says his natural weight is closer to 137. He is only 5-1 but has the upper body strength of a welterweight fighter. . . .
He has experimented with various health regimens since breaking his maiden May 19, 1964, aboard Huelen at the Presidente Remonrace track in his native Panama. . . .
Now he sits in the steam room 20 minutes a day, runs 1 1/2 miles and gets approximately 850 calories from morning cereal, an energy bar and a light dinner. . . .
At a restaurant in Arcadia the other night, he ordered a light beer, soup, halibut and a baked potato but finished only the potato. . . .
Asked about his favorite mounts, the winner of a Kentucky Derby, three Belmont Stakes in a row, six Breeders' Cup races, seven Hollywood Gold Cups, and five Santa Anita Handicaps provided a surprise or two. . . .
Best horse--Affirmed. . . .
Best grass horse--Advocator. . . .
Best filly--Bayokoa. . . .
Best sprinter--Chinook Pass. . . .
Most memorable race--The 1983 Belmont Stakes, when he overcame a ton of trouble to win with Caveat. . . .
He said the greatest jockey he ever rode against was Angel Cordero, who "looked like he was born on a horse." . . .
Pincay is the son of a jockey, but Laffit Sr. left his family to become one of the leading riders in Venezuela when Laffit Jr. was very young. . . .
The kid who had thought about becoming a professional boxer was left to make it on his own, beginning as an unpaid hot walker at 15 and soon overcoming what would have been a rather serious problem--a fear of horses. . . .
His work ethic might be the best in sports. . . .
He rides with the same enthusiasm whether it is a $1 million stake or a $10,000 claiming race and never finds excuses to take days off. . . .
He once broke 10 ribs in a spill and was back riding in 28 days. . . .
Only good things are said about him in the jocks' room. . . .
It's the same in the press box, and, believe me, that is unique. . . .
How much of the ability that once made Grant Fuhr the NHL's best goaltender is still there at 32? . . .
How good are the two tall, young defensemen, Philippe Boucher and Denis Tsygurov? . . .
Those are the prime questions about the major trade the Kings made with the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday. . . .
What the Kings gave up, basically, was Alexei Zhitnik, who has flashed the potential to become an All-Star caliber defenseman but is coming off a disappointing sophomore year. . . .
Charlie Huddy long ago saw his best days, and Robb Stauber was not the King goaltender of the future. Jamie Storr is. . . .
If James Toney succeeds in his first fight as a light-heavyweight against Montell Griffin Saturday on the Oscar De La Hoya-John John Molina card at the MGM Grand, Toney will fight for a share of the 175-pound title in April on CBS. . . .
Don Nelson, who always wanted a good big man at Golden State, got one in Chris Webber, and that led to Nelson's downfall. . . .
For the first time in the United States, there was legal betting on a track meet Friday in Reno. However, a race involving Maria Mutola, who stretched her winning streak to 31 that night, was taken off the board. . . .
Houston Astro first baseman Jeff Bagwell won the ESPY award for breakthrough athlete of the year, but it is not exactly as though he came out of nowhere. After all, he was the National League rookie of the year in 1991.