Under the Food for Thought page: Among the cream of this year's 3-year-old crop of colts are Preakness champion Tank's Prospect, Eternal Prince and Proud Truth. For many years, Gene Klein, who owns Tank's Prospect, owned the San Diego Chargers. George Steinbrenner, one of the co-owners of Eternal Prince, owns the New York Yankees. John Galbreath is the owner of Proud Truth and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Curious, isn't it, this coincidence of ownership?
Connect the dots and what do they spell?
Oh no, certainly not a scandal. Please, don't get me wrong. These are rich men who enjoy sports. Why wouldn't they want to own horses as well as teams?
In fact, why wouldn't they want to own horses more than teams?
When was the last time a horse left camp seeking to renegotiate a contract?
Or checked into a drug detox center?
Or demanded a trade?
(Horse: "Play me, or glue me." Owner: "You don't have a hoof to stand on.")
How much fun do you think it was for Klein those last few years getting his brains beaten out? On the one hand standing in the forefront of the NFL's fight against Al Davis, and on the other watching as Fred Dean walked out on the team and Chuck Muncie self-destructed. Klein suffered a heart attack shortly after testifying against Davis. That probably won't happen to him in horse racing; he probably won't have to testify against the Black Stallion.
How much fun do you think it is for Galbreath these days? Waiting and worrying how deep the crater will be after the grand jury finally drops the other shoes in its drug inquiry. It's one thing to preside over a last-place team, but the way the rumor mill has it, if the Pirates want to have an alumni game the best way to get in touch with prospective players is to post the notice on the wall at the Betty Ford Clinic. Drugs play very different roles in horse racing and in baseball. Horses are commonly given so many injections that the racetrack drug business operates like a Mom and Pop restaurant. On the other hand, when was the last time anyone suspected National Velvet of using cocaine?
How much fun do you think Steinbrenner's having these days? Firing Yogi and hiring Billy. Stirring up all that -- Okay, forget it. I retract the question.
Anyway, who wouldn't rather own a horse?
They work cheap. They don't criticize you in print. And, if your car breaks down you can get up on the horse's back and ride him home. Try putting a saddle on Louie Kelcher.
Horses are easy.
Far too easy in these days of labor-management strife.
They ought to organize a union and negotiate the same kinds of rights that their fellow athletes have. They've been treated like animals for years. Their time has come. Heigh-yo, Silver.
(Who was that masked man? Marvin Miller?)
The first thing they need is an effective spokesman. Let me give you a hint who it should be. A horse is a horse, of course, of course, and no one can talk to a horse, of course. That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous . . .
Ed, and his longtime associate, Francis the Talking Mule, should demand the following concessions from the owners contained in this 10-point plan:
Better hours. As things stand now, horses are awakened before dawn and taken out for a hard run. A leisurely jog, or an aerobic workout, fine. But run hard? Before dawn? Give me a break. How many home runs you think Babe Ruth would have hit if they had him taking batting practice at 5 a.m.?
Full disclosure. Owners should have to open their books to the union. Sure, the owners say they don't make enough money to feed the horses anything but hay and oats. But how about that limo Steinbrenner rides around in?
No lip tattoos.
Softer blankets. Why do you think horses sleep standing up? Those blankets scratch too much to lie down.
No whip. It's bad enough having someone on your back, but when he starts to whip you, that's carrying it a bit too far. Try talking nicely to the horse. It worked for Mickey Rooney in the movies.
Better travel conditions. Small vans are for ponies. Horses should be going first class. Nonstop jumbo jets. (Who gets the frequent flyer miles -- the owners or the horses -- can be negotiated later.)
Better living conditions. As Secretariat said, "A stall for moi?" Does the word "condo" mean anything to you? How about "central air?"
Leasing. The days of ownership are coming to an end.
No day races after night races.
And after we organize the horses, we'll start working on race cars. Mister Ed can just hand his notes over to K.I.T.T.