Harness racing has been experimenting for three years now with prerace testing of horses for drugs, and the results thus far indicate that a scandal like the Dancer's Image-Kentucky Derby affair, in which an illegally administered medication was found in the horse after the race, need never occur again. As Dr. Vernon L. Tharp, head of Ohio State University's veterinary clinic, where most of the research into prerace testing has taken place, says, "The thing that is so great about it is, you scratch the horse before anyone is hurt."
Prerace testing costs more (about $648 a night at Scioto Downs in Ohio, where tests were made under competitive conditions, as compared to about $170 for post-race examinations) because all the horses in each race are examined instead of only the winners and one or two others selected by lot, which is standard procedure in post-race testing.
The added cost seems a small price to pay if the tests prove satisfactory. Edward Hackett, executive vice-president of the U.S. Trotting Association, says, "The experiments show that prerace testing is at least as accurate as post-race testing." Certainly a prerace scratch is less painful than the bloody wound left by a post-race disqualification.
February 10, 1969
YOUR WIRE RECEIVED
In case you've been wondering how skiing and winter sports in general are holding up in Europe, the Palace Hotel in St. Moritz says it had to spend $1,500 on telegrams to reject requests for reservations for the Christmas and New Year's holidays alone.
It seems likely that Elvin Hayes of the San Diego Rockets is going to be the first rookie since Wilt Chamberlain to lead the NBA in scoring, and he also seems certain to be voted the NBA's Rookie of the Year. But another rookie, Wes Unseld of the vastly improved Baltimore Bullets, may be named the league's Outstanding Player. The paradox could come about because the Rookie of the Year honor is awarded by the basketball writers and sportscasters whereas the Outstanding Player is selected by the players themselves. Hayes is a talented, eye-catching performer, but those who play with and against Unseld think he may be the best team player to come into the league in years.
Canada, looking ahead to the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan, is trying to find ways to reduce the wind resistance experienced by Alpine skiers in races. Aerodynamic studies of skiers have been conducted in a 6-by-9-foot wind tunnel under the direction of a team of engineers from Canada's National Aeronautical Establishment. Skiers wore racing equipment and faced simulated speeds up to 111 mph (though 70 mph is about the maximum reached in races). Drag was measured for more than a dozen racing positions, including the "egg," which supposedly is the fastest racing posture for high-speed skiers. Helmets, slacks, boots and skis were also tested. In some cases, fairings were attached to the leg and boot to improve streamlining, and protruding ski boot buckles were covered with tape.
Alan Raines, administrative head coach of Canada's national ski team, thinks the experiment has already produced a new racing position that could shave as much as two seconds per minute from times achieved with the egg, though the tests also reveal that each skier has his own optimum body position. Detailed results will be made known only to members of the Canadian Amateur Ski Association, but Raines says that one of the most important discoveries of the testing was the precise effect the position of a skier's hands and arms has. An arm flailing out to maintain balance can cause a measurable increase in drag and a commensurate decrease in speed.
The Canadian experiment takes on added significance when it is recalled that in the 1968 Olympics only 95/100 of a second separated first and fourth places in the women's downhill and only 88/100 of a second separated first and sixth in the men's slalom. Canadians, in particular, remember that their Nancy Greene, who won the women's giant slalom, missed a second gold medal in the slalom by 29/100 of a second.
BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN
Keep dreaming; everything comes true sooner or later. A.G. (Scotty) Kennedy, general manager of Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg, Manitoba, suggested to delegates at a meeting of the National Association of Canadian Race Tracks that they consider the idea of introducing betting on credit. John Mooney of The Jockey Club Limited in Ontario retorted that such a proposal was dangerous, that "too many people would be getting in over their heads with bets. It might be a short-term boom, but then it would be a bust."
Surprisingly, five Canadian tracks have already experimented with credit—if American punters had known that, there would have been a sudden flight of railbirds from old hat places like Tropical and Santa Anita, which stuffily insist on cash on the line—but only one, a track in British Columbia, is still using it. Merv Peters of the British Columbia Jockey Club said that no more than 10 or 12 people use the credit system and added, "It's a lot of trouble. From our experience, it's not worth having."
He also said the Jockey Club had had trouble collecting from its two best customers, but he made no mention of relations with its worst customers.
It was suggested a few weeks ago that you keep an eye on whoever was named head football coach at Miami University of Ohio, since Miami coaches have a habit of moving up to much bigger football jobs. Well, the new coach is Bill Mallory, an assistant these past few seasons to Woody Hayes (another Miami boy) at Ohio State and, like his immediate predecessors, Bo Schembechler (Michigan), John Pont (Indiana) and Ara Parseghian (Notre Dame), a Miami graduate.
As Mallory starts working his way up the football ladder, more evidence has come in that Miami is truly the cradle of coaches. Clive Rush, the New York Jets assistant who was named head coach of the Boston Patriots, is a Miami graduate. Miami now has four of its boys coaching professional football: three alumni (Rush, Weeb Ewbank and Paul Brown) and one former coach (Sid Gillman).
Dr. Dan O. Kilroy, a physician who is chairman of the California state boxing commission, has suggested that eyebrow cuts be stitched during a fight instead of being treated with coagulants, which is the current practice. Dr. Kilroy says that eyebrow cuts, a common cause of technical knockouts, "usually start as small cuts with little bleeding. They are treated in the between-round session, but with each subsequent blow...the cut becomes longer and deeper and often reaches such a size as to compel termination of the bout. If we can suture the cut when it is tiny, we not only stop the bleeding, we take away a target for the fighter's opponent."
Dr. Kilroy says that stitching a cut would require no more than two minutes between rounds. This week he is proposing to the California commission that a pilot study be made of fights in the Sacramento area to test whether his plan is feasible.
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the country, in Florida, Dr. Ralph Millard had arrived at the same conclusion, though he insists that he could get the process of stitching a cut down to half a minute. "The two-minute time out is okay," he says, "but it really isn't necessary." Millard, a noted plastic surgeon, sutured a fighter between rounds at a Miami fight a few years ago, and he reports that the stitches held up under repeated blows during the fight and that the wound healed with less scar than cuts that are not sutured until after a fight is over.
Like Dr. Kilroy, Dr. Millard believes that most cuts received in a fight are not serious in themselves and if closed promptly would give no trouble. He feels that the use of stitches would be most important in championship bouts. "It seems unfair," he argues, "that a superior fighter with a tendency to cut can lose a fight he is actually winning."
PUT THE MONEY IN THE POT
The dispute continues between major league players and owners over the proper disposition of the increased revenue (about $4.2 million annually) baseball will receive for World Series, All-Star Game and Game of the Week telecasts under its new contract. We think both sides are being shortsighted—the owners for wanting to give the players a lesser share of the overall sum (about 31% compared to 33%), and the players for wanting to use whatever money they get only for their pension plan.
Baseball, admittedly, is a livelihood, but it is still a sport and it should do all it can to enhance its glamour and excitement. Money is glamorous and exciting. Its absence is not. Art Shamsky of the Mets said recently, "There are some things about baseball that bug me. In pro football a guy gets $25,000 for playing two title games. Our fellows don't get half that much for winning the World Series." Shamsky is on a ninth-place team. Yet he resents the puny image created by the diminutive World Series payoff.
The reason World Series shares are so small is because they come only from gate receipts. None of the rich television revenue is included. We think the owners and players ought to agree right now that, no matter who wins the current dispute, a substantial part of the TV money—or similar revenue from the new playoff system—will be put into the World Series pot. An extra $1.2 million added to the players' share of World Series gate receipts would raise a winning share to $40,000, a losing share to $20,000. Think of it. Not just the Series but every game during the regular season would become that much more significant, that much more exciting.
More than that, it would pay off. Excitement attracts people. People bring money.
CHANGE OF LUCK
Something akin to a Spaniard popping over to the U.S. and hitting four home runs in one game has happened in Spain. John Fulton, who has been living in Seville for a dozen years, was the first American to be fully qualified as a matador in Spain (SI, July 29, 1968). But though he is a sound, workmanlike performer, Fulton has been received about as enthusiastically as a pinch hitter from Madrid would be by a major league ball team. He hasn't been allowed to play very often.
This winter his luck changed. At a charity festival in Seville the bulls were Miuras, the most terrifying toros in Spain. The only reason Fulton was in the ring was because most Spanish matadors refuse to fight Miuras, which are big and difficult (it was a Miura that killed the storied Manolete).
The first thing the bull did to Hone Footon (the closest the Spaniards come to pronouncing the name) was to toss him over its horns. Fulton picked himself up, tried again and fought so well that he won a trophy rarely awarded these days in Spain: the car of a Miura bull. Hone Footon has now been approached by several impresarios with offers of fights in the spring. The only trouble is, all of them will be against Miuras.
THEY SAID IT
•Sid Gillman, San Diego Chargers coach, after his first-round draft of Quarterback Marty Domres of Columbia: "Mindwise, the kid has got it. You don't get into Columbia if you haven't got it. Mindwise, Columbia is the Gem of the Ocean."
•Abe Lemons, Oklahoma City basketball coach, wryly commenting on the frustrations of recruiting: "I don't believe I'm going to recruit high school boys anymore. You can save money by recruiting junior-college boys. If they play, it costs you a scholarship for only two years. If a high school boy comes in and can't play, you're stuck for four years."