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Early start at horsing around

Times Staff Writer

Who says horse racing doesn’t appeal to people of all ages?

The first race at Santa Anita on Sunday was named after Bella Szabo, who was there celebrating her fourth birthday. The seventh race was named in honor of veteran sports broadcaster Gil Stratton, 85.

Bella, the granddaughter of Arcadia horseman Gary Dimkich, was serenaded by track bugler Jay Cohen, who played the theme from “Star Wars” and “Happy Birthday.”

The young lady, all smiles as she tried explaining why she loves coming to the track, said, “It’s a long story.”

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Those words have a different meaning when a horseplayer gets home and his wife asks, “Did you win?”

Trivia time

Stratton, an actor in his younger days, had a prominent role in what movie opposite William Holden? Hint: Holden won the Oscar for best actor in this movie.

Varying plots

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Comedian Argus Hamilton, on the contradicting statements made last week by Roger Clemens and accuser Brian McNamee: “It’s so nice to have the writers back.”

Another target

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, on Clemens’ wife, Debbie, being injected with HGH in preparation for a Sports Illustrated swimsuit photo shoot: “Oh, yeah, her. . . . Wasn’t she the one in the asterisk bikini?”

Headline from TheOnion.com: “Debbie Clemens forced to explain lifetime 0.00 ERA.”

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Next in line

From reader Bill Littlejohn, regarding Richard Emery, one of McNamee’s lawyers, predicting last week that Clemens’ friendship with the Bush family will result in a presidential pardon if the pitcher is indicted or convicted: “In other news, Barry Bonds announced that he will visit the White House next week.”

Misplaced glory

Littlejohn also offers a comment on the Houston Rockets’ plan to unveil a monument April 11 to pay tribute to Hakeem Olajuwon, who led the team to NBA titles in 1994 and 1995, when Michael Jordan was pursuing a baseball career.

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Details regarding the monument have not been announced, but Littlejohn suggests, “It’s a statue of Michael Jordan in a Birmingham Barons uniform.”

No baloney

Utah Jazz forward Kyle Korver, who will make $4.5 million this season, recently said that he eats 25 to 30 peanut butter-and-jam sandwiches a week.

Noted Brad Rock of the Deseret News:

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“Word is he hopes to land a contract extension so next year he can upgrade to macaroni and cheese for lunch.”

Comedy Knight

Bob Knight appeared in a black-and-white striped referee’s jersey on Jay Leno’s show last week.

Said fellow guest Larry the Cable Guy:

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“When did you start working at Foot Locker?”

Said Knight: “I was trying to decide what would I like to do, something easy. There are fat guys that referee, there are slow guys that referee.

“I mean, some of them don’t see well, and a lot of them don’t even know” what the rules are. “What better job could you have than being a referee?”

Added Leno: “It’s dangerous. You could get hit with a chair.”

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Trivia answer

Stratton played POW Clarence Harvey “Cookie” Cook in the 1953 movie “Stalag 17.” Stratton was also the narrator of the Billy Wilder film.

And finally

Even though the New England Patriots fell one game short, Scott Ostler in Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle wrote that he believes winning 19 games in the NFL can be accomplished.

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“The Raiders over the last five season have won exactly 19 games,” Ostler pointed out.

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larry.stewart@latimes.com


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