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Distance the Difference in Silverbulletday's Choice

April 29, 1999|RANDY HARVEY

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The world's fastest 3-year-old thoroughbred won't be running on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Derby. She'll be running on the last Friday in April at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Oaks.

Yes, she.

Her name is Silverbulletday, and she is an overwhelming favorite in Friday's prestigious race for 3-year-old fillies at 3-5.

Except for the betting public's distrust of fillies, she might also have been favored in the more prestigious Derby if her connections, owner Mike Pegram and trainer Bob Baffert, had decided to enter her.

"If anyone had told me when I got into racing that I'd have a Derby favorite someday, I would have assumed they were crazy," Pegram said Wednesday. "If they had told me I'd have a Derby favorite that I wouldn't put in the race, I would have assumed I was crazy."

But Pegram has his reasons, foremost among them that he's not sure she would be as outstanding at the 1 1/4-mile Derby distance as at the 1 1/8-mile Oaks distance.

Excellent Meeting, the other filly in Baffert's barn here, might be better at 1 1/4, which is one reason her owner, John Mabee, entered her in the Derby.

"Emotionally, I'd choose the Derby," Pegram said. "But, if you're going to do what's best for the horse, it was an easy call."

Making it even easier was the fact that Pegram already has won a Derby, last year with Real Quiet. Why not go for the Oaks this year?

*

Silly me for believing I could name the top 11 football players produced by L.A. high schools. . . .

Based on reader response, I definitely blew it with one player, Mike Haynes of Marshall, and maybe a couple of others, Glenn Davis of La Verne Bonita and Jon Arnett of Manual Arts. . . .

Others who received support were Warren Moon of Hamilton, Anthony Davis of San Fernando and Billy Kilmer of Azusa Citrus. . . .

I'm a little surprised no one called on behalf of Jackie Robinson of Pasadena. The worst of his four sports was baseball. . . .

Wayne Gretzky was great, but, according to a commentary by the Chicago Tribune's Phil Hersh, Bobby Orr was greater. . . .

I don't agree, but Hersh makes a good point when he writes that Orr not only was the best defender of his time but also could handle the puck as well as any forward. . . .

There's no question that one of the best defensive lines ever was the Fearsome Foursome. Deacon Jones, Rosey Grier, Merlin Olsen and Lamar Lundy will be together again Sunday as hosts of the Deacon Jones Scholarship Awards Gala at the Century Plaza Hotel. . . .

Del Harris lost Jerry West's support even before the Lakers were swept from the playoffs last season by Utah. . . .

As you no doubt recall, the players were feeling good about themselves after eliminating Seattle. Then Harris started in with his ill-timed diatribe about the officials' leniency with Karl Malone. . . .

All that did was put doubt in the Lakers' minds about their ability to handle the Mailman. They were beaten before they started. It was a terrible tactical blunder. . . .

The 20-year winning streak by the UCLA men's track and field team over USC is in jeopardy in their annual dual meet Saturday at Cromwell Field. . . .

The experts have doped out the Trojans as a one-point favorite. . . .

The Bruins and Trojans also will meet this weekend in baseball with a three-game series beginning tonight at Dedeaux Field. . . .

The Trojans' starter tonight is Barry Zito, a junior left-hander who is 6-0 in Pacific 10 play and fourth in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings at 12.9. . . .

He is no relation to Nick Zito, the trainer who will be trying to win his third Kentucky Derby on Saturday with Stephen Got Even and Adonis. . . .

Dan Goossen of America Presents was the only promoter to testify last week at a Senate committee hearing on the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. . . .

Goossen, formerly of Sherman Oaks, said he is against open scoring, preferring instead that boxing recruit more competent and honest judges. . . .

It's hard to argue with that. But until then, open scoring will at least keep the judges more honest. . . .

Johnny Tapia, the World Boxing Assn. super-bantamweight champ who has a tattoo that reads, "Mi Vida Loco," just bought a pet bull. . . .

To the obvious question, he answers, "Because I've always wanted one."

*

While wondering if there's a better manager than Dusty Baker, I was thinking: Bob Baffert will win his third consecutive Kentucky Derby but don't ask which horse, post positions should be determined by earnings and not luck of the draw, Jerry Buss shouldn't feel too bad--he could be Peter Angelos.

*

Randy Harvey can be reached at his e-mail address: randy.harvey@latimes.com.

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