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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO / RANDY HARVEY

Front-Runner for Eclipse? It's Too Close to Call

June 24, 1997|RANDY HARVEY

If Eclipse Award voters were asked today to predict the horse of the year, my guess is most wouldn't choose Silver Charm, despite his victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Even those who did probably would have Belmont winner Touch Gold and Siphon in the photo.

It looks like it could be a race to the finish of the year. Unfortunately for horse racing fans, however, the decision might not be any clearer then than now.

The plan by Hollywood Park Chairman R.D. Hubbard to add a fourth jewel to the Triple Crown, rematching Silver Charm, Touch Gold and Free House, in the July 13 Swaps Stakes fell apart when Silver Charm's owners opted for a race in New Jersey.

Nor are they likely to meet again in the Nov. 8 Breeders' Cup at Hollywood Park because Silver Charm and Free House weren't nominated.

As for the best of the older horses, Siphon, Sandpit and Gentlemen will meet for the second time this year Sunday at Hubbard's track in the Hollywood Gold Cup and are scheduled to close out the MGM Grand Classic Crown in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

But they also are doubtful for the Breeders' Cup, again because they weren't nominated.

Hubbard, one of Gentlemen's owners, believed he had an agreement enabling the three South American-breds, Siphon, Sandpit and Gentlemen, to run in the Breeders' Cup. When he discovered he didn't, he threatened to sue Breeders' Cup officials.

It's an interesting concept, inviting someone to throw the party of the year at your house and then greeting them at the door with a lawsuit.

Upon advice of counsel, Hubbard arrived at a better idea.

Details are far from complete, but he wants to schedule another race for late November at Hollywood Park that would include all the top thoroughbreds and let them run to determine which is horse of the year.

Even though voters wouldn't be required to cast their ballot for the winner, they might not be able to overcome the power of suggestion. The name of the race, Hubbard said, would be the Eclipse.

*

Do the Dodgers never learn? . . .

In an old-timers game Sunday in San Francisco, Jack Clark doubled twice in the Giants' 6-1 victory over the Dodgers. . . .

Not since "Disco-Demolition Night" have I seen a promotion backfire like the San Diego Padres' did Saturday, when they gave away "Welcome to Sea Level" T-shirts before a game against Colorado. . . .

Sixteen hits--including three home runs--later in a 9-4 victory, the Rockies said they hadn't been so amused since Roseanne sang the national anthem at the Murph. . . .

As if the Dodgers needed more bad news, now the Sleeping Giant is awake. Of Barry Bonds' last 16 hits before Monday night, eight were home runs. . . .

And Angel fans booed because Terry Collins wouldn't pitch to him. . . .

I bet he wouldn't have pitched to Clark, either. . . .

So Tom Lasorda made a decision or two in 20 seasons that didn't work out. That's no reason for Oakland General Manager Sandy Alderson to take a shot at him. . . .

Arguing on behalf of Lefty O'Doul for the Hall of Fame, Alderson said, "If Tommy Lasorda can get in, O'Doul can get in." . . .

Who better to present the Roy Firestone Award for community service to Jim Brown than Roy Firestone? . . .

The award is sponsored by the Westcoast Sports Assn. and will be presented Wednesday night at the Town and Gown on USC's campus. Proceeds benefit Jim Gilliam Park. . . .

Among items to be auctioned during the evening is an hour with basketball's shot doctor, Chip England, in Pacific Palisades. . . .

Steve Kerr is one of England's patients, which, after Game 6 of the NBA finals, should serve as a good recommendation. . . .

Shaq was told to go but is seeking a second opinion. . . .

Eddie Jones' camp began Monday at North Hollywood High. Laker guard Nick Van Exel, who will speak to the campers Thursday, paid the tuition for nine underprivileged children. . . .

If 1998 brings a Grand Slam to Tiger Woods and a sixth NBA championship to Michael Jordan, who will be the planet's most famous athlete? . . .

Neither, writes Ian Thomsen in the International Herald Tribune, if Ronaldo leads Brazil to soccer's World Cup championship in France. . . .

How big is Ronaldo already?. . . .

Not even Nike could buy his affections when trying to persuade him to remain with Barcelona next season instead of moving to Inter Milan.

*

While wondering if Van Exel will still be a Laker on Thursday, I was thinking: I'm looking forward to seeing Brian Williams sky surfing at the X-Games, Mark Martin needs one of those speed passes, maybe the Padres meant to say "Sea World."

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