Arogue's recipe for the proper Derby Day mint julep:
Fill a small glass with good bourbon and set it aside. Then fill a tall glass half full of ice. Now procure five generous sprigs of mint, preferably homegrown. Crush mint lightly into tall glass. Now whiten rim of tall glass with two pinches of powdered sugar.
Then throw the whole mess away and drink the bourbon.
That, in allegory, is the preferred recipe for picking the winner of Saturday's Kentucky Derby. Put Seattle Slew to one side, then contemplate the 14 other steeds in the field. Then forget all about the other 14 and take a straight ticket on the unbeaten Seattle Slew.
That's the mood here, which is indicating that Seattle Slew may be the shortest - priced favorite in the 103 years of the Derby.
The situation invites the same question Walter Hagen put to that crowd of Englishman who watched him go the first tee in the British Open.
'I wonder who's going to finish second?' said the flamboyant Hagen, aware that the British expected something of that nature from him.
Seattle Slew, six for six, has risen above his breeding, said Humphrey Finney, the sage of the Blue Grass, Whose Fasig-Tipton Co. knocked the colt down to Karen and Billy Taylor for a paltry $17,5000. Finney called the bloodlines 'moderate . . . not exotice. Bold Reasoning's first crop was not much, and he's the mare's first fool. Socially, he was not acceptable to the big bidders at the Keeneland sale, which rejected him at their auction.'
The Derby scene has been somewhat illuminated by the gusty arrival of George Steinbrenner and 23 friends. Steinbrenner is the owner of the New York Yankees and a serious horseman who is represented in Saturday's race by Steve's Friend, the recent winner of the Hollywood Derby. Steve's Friend is one of the strong candidates for second place and would gratify Steinbrenner by finishing first.
Steinbrenner's colt is one of those who saw no future in running against Seattle Slew in Florida, and Skeedadled out to California where the picking's were easier. He ran a decent third in the Santa Anita Derby and then took it all as a 34-to-1 shoto in the Hollywood with a come-from-behind surge that could be important at Churchill Downs.
On breeding, Steinbrenner's colt could give Seattle Slew hearts and spades and still show a big edge. "He represents the Nasrullan cross with Princequillo, and there is no greater portent for greatness," said Finney.
Steinbrenner's colt doesn't have one of the more fashionable jockeys. His rider is Reuben Hernandez, who was not too proud to pay his own way to California and ask for the mount in the Santa Anita Derby. 'how many kids would do that, pay their own money to go from Florida to the Coast on a chance he could get work?' said Steinbrenner. 'I've got to stick with that kind of boy.' He was rewarded in the Hollywood Derby.
John Fulton trains Steve's Friend and some people here are trying to read into Steinbrenner's relationship with his trainer the same buttisky tactics he has been accused of using with Billy Martin, his baseball manager.
On cynic here has ventured that it will be a contest as to whether Fulton will beat Martin to the punch, aimed in Steinbrenner's direction. But Steinbrenner is saying flatly that 'I have full confidence in my trainer and he's in charge of the colt.'
In the possibility, perhaps remote, that Steinbrenner's colt wins the Derby, he has announced that Steve's Friend will not go in the Preakness, thereby dashing any Triple Crown notions. 'I'm backing up my trainer,' Steinbrenner said today. 'John says every horse needs three weeks between big races and that's my vote, too.'
The prospect is that For The Moment will go to the post as second choice to Seattle Slew, and Finney has been saying that is as it should be.In the Finney idiom, he says, 'For The Moment is the only other colt that puts me on edge for the Derby.' He says he is very high on the trainer, LeRoy Jolley, who may have tricks up his sleeve.
This year there is an uncommon baseball accent in the 15-horse Derby field. In addition to Steinbrenner's Steve's Friend, Pirate owner John Galbreath is represented by his late finishing Sanhedrin, the colt that got closest to Seattle Slew in the late stages of the Wood Memorial.
Thursday, a third baseball man entered the picture. He is Marvin L. Warner, a part owner with Steinbrenner in the Yankees operation and also the owner of the Tampa NFL team. Warner suddenly bought longshot Papelote. There may be no significance in that the colt was sold by his owner shortly after he drew the dreary no. 14 post position for the Derby.
Churchill Downs is preparing for the biggest Derby crowd since Secretariat in 1973, with box seats obtainable only by legacy, the grandstands long ago sold out and standing room in the infield retailing for $10, with a doubtful view of the race.