The Bwamazon Farm people have put 46-year-old Bill Shoemaker in the saddle of Get The Axe for the Kentucky Derby and there went teen-ager Steve Cauthen's last best hope of a ride in the 1977 Derby.
"There isn't a Chinaman's chance he'll have a Derby mount," said Len Goodman, agent for the jockey who skyrocketed to fame in the year since he made his debut as an apprentice rider at, yes. Churchill Downs (May 12, 1976.) "All of the Derby horses that are of any account had their jockeys lined up months ago. So that leaves Steve out in the cold."
The Louisville track would like nothing better than to have Cauthen home in Kentucky realizing his lifetime dream, but, as Goodman said, Cauthen is down to ride Great Above in the Carter Handicap at Aqueduct Saturday . . .
Of course, New York isn't such a bad place to be if you're a big name. One athlete whose dream has come true is Reggie Jackson, the Yankee outfielder who once boasted that if he played in New York "they'd name a candy bar after me." Today, Standard Brands, maker of Baby Ruth among its multiplicity of groceries, officially unveils a new candy product: the Reggie Bar!
Banned in Baltimore, no doubt . . .
Candy's dandy but Fidrych's quicker, or something, and the Detroit Tigers have begun the countdown toward Mark Fidrych's inaugural sophomore pitching start. For the first time since he tore knee cartilage six weeks ago, the Bird pitched batting practice Sunday and again Tuesday and appears to be coming along. He is ticketed to make his 1977 debut in Tiger Stadium between May 27 and June 2. The club won't pinpoint the date until a few days beforehand for fear of teh embarrassment and expense of refunding money to disappointed fans, likely to fill the park for the occasion, if something should happen to the curlyhead before hand . . .
"I Quit," says Elvin Hayes.Smoking cigarettes, that is. The Bullet forward is chairman of the I.Q. Program of the American Cancer Society's D.C. Division, which reports that in his two years with them more than 5,000 Washingtonians have enrolled to kick the habit . . .
The Lord must be as angry at Ted Turner as Bowie Kuhn is. Turner's Atlanta Braves, as manager Dave Bristol put it, are dropping like flies." No wonder that they had a 10-game losing streak going into action last night. Star hitter Willie Montanez is on the 15-day disabled list with a pulled groin muscle; key pitcher Dick Ruthven is on the 21-day list, torn ankle ligaments; ace hurler Andy Messersmith has been hampered by a sore side and until last night had pitched only three innings in two weeks; second baseman Rod Gilbreath is out indefinitely, jammed wrist - and now, Turner's pride. Gary Mathews, who supplanted 1976 grab Messersmith as wealthiest free agent turned Brave, is on the shelf. The outfielder with the .382 bat was declared out yesterday at least 14 more days with the right-shoulder injury that had kept him down since last week . . .
Even Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, who didn't use to talk this way but can feel magnanimous the way his Jackson Nine is winning, has turned a cold shoulder on Turner, whom he preceded as a Kuhn suspendee. "Nobody forced me to buy the Yankees," Steinbrenner said. "Nobody forced Ted Turner to buy the Braves . . . when we bought these teams we knew what the rules were . . . The man (Kuhn) has been maligned and jumped on by many of the owners," Steinbrenner included, Steinbrenner concluded. "I think it's time they get off his back. He's trying to do a job" . . .
Everbody picks on the Braves. Yogi Berra's son, Dale, swatted his first two Class AAA home runs and a double Tuesday night at Richmond for Columbus, Ohio, to sink Atlanta's International League affiliate . . . Back a work for Pawtucket in the IL is Red Sox chattel Don Aase, who muffed his chance to go to the head of the major league alphabet since Hank Aaron retired. The register thus leads off with Glenn Abbott, Seattle slinger . . . And ends with - today's trivia question . . .
Grambling and its Southwestern Athletic Conference confreres hit an unaccustomed drought with only one SWAC player - no Tigers - taken in the first five rounds of the NFL draft, but wait till next year.
Grambling thinks Doug Williams, its junior quarterback, "will be the No. 1 draft choice in the United States next year. He's broken every record set by James Harris and Matthew Reed" and has a year left . . . Harris may be the only black QB in the NFL if Joe Gilliam can't come back, but when the Toronto Argonauts signed Dennis Franklin recently, saying they would return the former Michigan star, switched to receiver by the NFL Detroit Lions, to his original position, it gave the Canadian league Argos a signal-calling roster of Matt Reed, Chuck Ealey and Franklin: three blacks . . . And the Montreal Gazette says Ealey ($53,000) and Reed ($50,000) were the highest-paid quarterbacks in CFL '76 except 17-year vet Ron Lancester of Sasketchewan, the MVP . . .
Playing so many pro-ams with the PGA stars has done a world of good for Gerry Ford's golf game, right? maybe, but at the Byron Nelson Classic prelim in Dallas yesterday, the ex-Prez knocked his opening shot out of bounds, then hit a spectator with his tee shot on No. 2 . . . CBS will make a TV show out of the 1977 Heisman Trophy winner announcement in a new deal with New York's Downtown Athletic Club . . . Any day they'll start the college football season in August. For now, the 1977 wars will begin Sept. 2 or 3 with a newly arranged game between Penn State and Rutgers winner of its last 18 at Giants Staduim: erasure of a four-game Duke-Penn State series and of Columbia-Rutgers Oct. 22 date made it possible . . .
Show biz: The University of Maryland "M" Club's next big fundraising attraction: Lawrence Welk at Cole Field House June 11.