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The Inside Track | T.J. Simers

One Thing He's Not Is a Girl's Best Friend

September 05, 2003|T.J. Simers

DEL MAR — I was wearing my "I Like Patrick" pin, and trying to remind Julie Krone, who will be racing Patrick Valenzuela in Sunday's "Battle of the Sexes Match Race" here, that it's a man's world, and all I was getting in return Thursday was this happy, sappy girl prattling on and on about how much fun a pony ride can be.

Now I can't remember exactly how it changed, or what I said to rankle Pollyanna, but I know what she yelled at me as she walked into the jockeys' room, because I wrote down what she said right here: "Hope your 'I love Patrick' pin comes apart and sticks in your little

She was gone before she finished the sentence, and I guess I was fortunate there wasn't a bucket around, because when she got ticked at jockey Matt Garcia recently she kicked one at him.

"Mothers get mad too," she explained, and that was before she stuck her tongue out at me and said, "So there."

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I JUST thought I was doing her a favor, telling her she wouldn't have a prayer in Sunday's match race when it came to athlete versus athlete with one of the athletes being a man and the other a girl.

Most of the fans, of course, will be wearing "I Like Julie" buttons and rooting hard for the underdog because she's horse racing's greatest ambassador and a cute little pixie, and while I know she's the best girlie rider in racing history, I told her I just hoped my guy Patrick wouldn't lap her.

"Why don't you meet me at the eighth pole and I'll show you how girlie I am," Krone said, and I would imagine that's where they store the buckets.

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THEY'VE HAD only three match races in Del Mar's 66-year history, with Seabiscuit winning the first, and I know some of you expect me to say something about the nag running in this race while subtly making reference to Krone, but I'm going to be bigger than that today.

Krone has 41 victories at this meet and trails only Valenzuela, who has five more. My guy Patrick won the coin flip to make the blind draw for the horse he'll ride, but because Krone is a girl, he let her go first. I'm sure that'll be the last time he lets her go first.

Pollyanna pulled a Bob Baffert horse, Woke Up Dreamin, which describes the only possible way she'll win this race, which left my guy Patrick on Chester's Choice. And from the look on Chester's face, he was pleased.

The man who sets the morning line here made my guy Patrick the 2-5 favorite. The match race will not count in the jockey standings, which really hurts my guy Patrick, who could have chalked up another win on his way to the title.

"I'm going to win this race and I'll back that up," my guy Patrick said, and you can see why he's the man.

What do you say about that, Miss Sunshine?

"The Battle of the Sexes -- it's just show business," she gushed.

"It's a show," my guy Patrick said, "and I'm going to be the star."

You go, guy.

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ORLANDO BASKETBALL boss Pat Williams, who admired the genius of baseball's Bill Veeck and wrote about it, has now turned his attention to L.A., and the greatness of John Wooden, Jackie Robinson and Walt Disney.

Williams, who wrote the motivational book, "How To Be Like Michael Jordan," is now putting together similar works on these L.A.-area treasures, and is asking folks in Southern California who were fortunate enough to rub shoulders with any of them and have a story to tell to call him directly at (407) 916-2404.

Keep in mind, Williams has eight daughters, only one of whom is married, so he needs everyone's help in writing these books and earning the money to pay for seven more weddings.

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HALL OF Fame jockey Chris McCarron stopped by The Times for lunch Wednesday, I presume because it was free. McCarron, general manager now at Santa Anita and technical advisor and actor in that boring movie about Seabiscuit, is trying to rekindle interest in horse racing.

I hope he has better luck than the movie, which waited too long to get to the horse and swiped all the emotion from what could have been a real feel-good movie, had it not been so intent on giving everyone a history lesson.

"You're wrong," McCarron said, and I don't know whether it was habit or his emotions taking over, but I got the impression that he wanted to go to the whip. "The number of people going to see this movie indicate you're wrong. In the six days since we've been doing it at Santa Anita, we've had more than 2,200 people riding in a 40-seat tram taking tours of the barn area, jockeys' room and the statue of Seabiscuit. Sales in the gift shop have tripled."

Those are 2,200 people with too much time on their hands.

"I can't wait to go," one of our editors said. As I said, people with too much time on their hands.

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BY THE way, I asked McCarron how he might have fared if paired with Pollyanna in a match race, and he said, "She knows better."

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TODAY'S LAST word is buried somewhere in all the e-mail. So far I've received more than 50 tailgate invites to USC's game Saturday at the Coliseum, and a like number of requests from those who also offered to throw me on the grill. I'm sure those folks were only kidding.

As part of my continuing Trojan education, I intend to accept as many invitations as possible, eat and drink as much as I can Saturday, and make fun of UCLA. Who knows, I might even get to like it.

I'll report back in Sunday's newspaper what it's like to be a Trojan fan.

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T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com.

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