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Benjamin Epstein

Derby Day Odds Favor Foundation, Red Cross

May 08, 1986|Benjamin Epstein

Ferdinand paid 18 to 1 Saturday at the Kentucky Derby.

Meanwhile, Derby Day at the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach paid better than 100 to 1: at least $65,000 was raised by 600 guests, many in garb befitting Kentucky colonels and their belles. The Search Foundation, dedicated to helping missing, abused and chemically dependent youth, and the Red Ribbon 100, a support group for the American Red Cross, split the purse.

Supporters of the organizations enjoyed hush puppies, black-eyed peas and mint juleps around the Bay Club pool, wagered for prizes in the ballroom and bid on auction items, including stud service from a horse named Algonkian. Just so they would know what they were getting, Algonkian, an Arabian valued at $1.2 million, also spent the day by the pool.

Now everybody knows that in Newport Beach, if you are poolside, you can still wear makeup. But a stallion with nail polish and body glitter?

"He's wearing all kinds of makeup," said Arabian horse investment specialist Tracy Leffer. "Eye shadow, for instance. We use shoe polish. It really sets off the eyes, don't you think?"

Mary Ann Miller, who co-chaired the event with Beverly Thompson-Coil and the Bay Club's Bob Bucci, approached the stallion with trepidation: Four years ago, a horse kicked herher. "I had my jaw wired up for a year," she said. Red Ribbon committee member Arlene Allen insisted it was pure chance that she wore gold glitter that matched the horse's.

Miller explained that the Red Ribbon 100 is a pilot program for the American Red Cross. "There have been volunteer groups," she pointed out, "but they've never had an actual fund-raising support group." George Chitty, executive director of the local Red Cross, said that Bay Club owner Bill Ray will receive the organization's annual Spirit Award at a dinner June 19 at the Hotel Meridien.

Thompson-Coil had lots of news from the Search Foundation, including:

- Bob Larson and Will Moffit, who created and wrote "Scared Straight," a documentary about youth crime prevention, will collaborate on "Searching for the Light," a video targeting the use of drugs in grammar schools, which the foundation will distribute free to schools nationwide.

- Dina Stitt, executive director of FIDM Productions, has offered to produce the video at cost.

- Columnist Ann Landers will serve as chairman of Gershwin Night, July 18.

The around-the-world trip, one of two Derby Day opportunity prizes, was won by Lynn Mae Franklin, who happened to be leaving for a four-month trip around the world this week; she donated the trip back to Search to be re-raffled at Gershwin Night. The Red Ribbon opportunity prize, a 1978 Excalibur, was won by Ron Okum of Pomona.

Charles Jennings bought the filly; James Darling secured the stud service. Because it will be given as a surprise birthday present, the successful bidder for "On the Rail," a sculpture by Bob Parks depicting three jockeys and their steeds, wished to remain anonymous.

Travel 3,000 miles south of Kentucky, and you'll find folks prefer their black-eyed peas fried with dried shrimp and spicy pepper. They'll eschew mint juleps in favor of rum drinks called batidas and caipirinhas.

You want to try before you fly? The Hotel Meridien welcomed representatives of the government of Bahia, six regional chefs and 28 musicians, dancers and singers to Newport Beach for a 10-day cultural/culinary festival. Bahia, "Land of Happiness," is the largest state in Brazil.

A poolside buffet and show for 200 got the festivities under way Friday night; the program was repeated Saturday night. A Sunday Bossa Nova Brunch benefited the United Cerebral Palsy Assn. of Orange County. Wednesday, the hotel was host to a World Trade Center Assn. reception. Activities continue this weekend.

Among the dishes prepared for the events--you can tell the cooks by their distinctive white costumes--were roast suckling pig, a seafood medley in coconut milk and fried salt cod with potatoes and eggs. Much of the fare is deep-fried. Cuisine, handicrafts and the lively arts all indicate a mix of African, Portuguese and American Indian influences.

Highlight of the events has been the "Ballet Folkloric," which featured tributes in dance to various gods, most notably the gods of war and gods of love. There was a split-second whir of legs, swords and fire executed with split-second precision. Music featured incredibly sophisticated cross-rhythms; one player made his drum-like instrument "laugh." Costumes included straw skirts, flashy fringed and spangled swimsuits and Carmen Miranda-like hats.

Some wore fewer clothes than others. In fact, opening night, everybody joked about who might have issued the topless permits, Newport Beach Mayor Philip R. Maurer or county Supervisor Thomas F. Riley, who both attended. But when the police arrived to stop the show, it had nothing to do with permits but rather with noise complaints from guests across the way at the Sheraton.

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