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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO

So What's a Few Bumps Between Competitors?

June 08, 1998|RANDY HARVEY

NEW YORK — Kent Desormeaux is a lucky man.

I know what you're thinking. Desormeaux lost by a nose Saturday at Belmont Park in a rare chance to win a Triple Crown, claimed his ride was responsible and, according to winning jockey Gary Stevens, will be "living a nightmare for the next couple of weeks."

Lucky?

Yes. Desormeaux had no reason to second guess his move on Real Quiet that he later said came too early. As Elliott Walden, trainer of victorious Victory Gallop, said, it was the same middle move that won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness for Desormeaux.

Desormeaux, however, would have deserved the blame if the photo had shown Real Quiet's nose crossed the finish line first only to have his number taken down by the stewards for bumping Victory Gallop twice in the stretch.

Later, Desormeaux said he pulled Real Quiet off the rail so the horse would have a better sense of Victory Gallop charging hard on the outside and acknowledged he tugged too hard on the reins, leading Real Quiet into the path of the oncoming challenger.

Victory Gallop's victory spared the stewards of having to make the call but said later they probably would have disqualified Real Quiet.

Desormeaux would have been forever remembered as the first jockey in history to cost his horse a Triple Crown because of a foul, the biggest blunder since Bill Shoemaker lost the Kentucky Derby by a nose in 1957 on Gallant Man because he stood in the saddle before arriving at the finish line.

Then again, perhaps the stewards, caught up in the Triple Crown fervor, wouldn't actually have disqualified Real Quiet.

If no foul was called when Reggie Miller pushed off on Michael Jordan in the playoffs, what are a couple of bumps between stakes winners down the stretch?

It's the Belmont. Let 'em play.

*

Fred Claire has been unfairly criticized for damaging Hideo Nomo's trade value by, in effect, firing the disgruntled pitcher. . . .

As became all too clear in the trade talks for Randy Johnson with the Seattle Mariners, Nomo had no trade value. . . .

You didn't have to be a major league scout to figure out Nomo had lost his fastball. . . .

All you had to do was listen to the pop in catcher Tom Prince's glove during Nomo's last start for the Dodgers. . . .

There was none after the second inning. . . .

Nomo, however, is optimistic about his future now that he's reunited with Mike Piazza and former Dodger pitching coach Dave Wallace, an assistant to New York Met General Manager Steve Phillips. . . .

"It's nice to be able to work with people who understand you and communicate well," Nomo said. . . .

Met Manager Bobby Valentine's advisor on the trade was Tom Lasorda. . . .

Lasorda told him Nomo has had only three bad starts. . . .

Of course, he gave up 19 runs in seven innings during those three starts. . . .

Even if Nomo fizzles in New York, the Mets don't think they gave up much for him in pitchers Dave Mlicki and Greg McMichael. . . .

It sounds like the Dodgers shouldn't invite Piazza and the Martinez brothers to the same reunion. . . .

New No. 1 song in New York: "Talking Baseball: Willie, Mickey and El Duque." . . .

According to the New York Daily News, King center Ray Ferraro is plotting his return to the Islanders. . . .

The newspaper reported he has auditioned for a position as the team's color commentator. . . .

Phil Jackson's agent, Todd Musburger, says his client would consider offers after the NBA finals from Seattle, Denver or the Clippers. . . .

It's no secret, though, that Jackson's first choice is the Lakers if they don't allow Del Harris to stay for the final year of his contract. . . .

D-Day for Del? The Laker decision on Harris' future could come as early as today. . . .

The guess here is that Harris and Jerry West will be back for another season but that Nick Van Exel and Elden Campbell won't. . . .

The trade rumor creating the most buzz at the finals in Chicago is that the Lakers will send Campbell and Eddie Jones to Sacramento for Chris Webber. . . .

Doesn't it seem Mike Lasky, owner of Hot Wells, should have known his horse would be kicked out of the Belmont because Lasky doesn't have a license to race in New York. . . .

Lasky is founder of the Psychic Friends Network. . . .

Sign on the window of an Eighth Avenue bar: "Yankees Lose. Happy Hour Canceled."

*

While wondering if Tony Tavares has sent a card yet to congratulate Ron Wilson, I was thinking: Give me a horse in a big race and I want Stevens riding it, I'm pretty sure Arizona State would have gone for two against USC, there's no truth to the report Claire is trying to acquire Ginger Spice.

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