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Morning briefing

He wasn't along for the ride

May 05, 2008|Larry Stewart | Times Staff Writer

Fred Willard, who plays sportscaster Marsh McGinley on the Fox sitcom "Back to You," attended his first Kentucky Derby over the weekend.

Although actually part of an Easter Seals event, he kidded, "I really don't know what I'm doing here. Fox sent me to the World Series and Super Bowl to promote our show, so I thought maybe they were sending me here to ride a horse in the Derby.

"I was somewhat relieved to learn Fox doesn't have the Derby."

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Trivia time

Who has the record for most Kentucky Derby mounts?

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Color blind

Lush green is everywhere in the Lexington area, where most of the lavish Kentucky horse farms are located, but it is called Bluegrass Country.

"The grass has a blue tinge when the sun shines on it just right," said one old-timer.

Said NBC's Tom Hammond, a native of Lexington: "I've never seen it."

Maybe Ramona Bass, a Texas and Kentucky horsewoman whose family owned 1975 Belmont Stakes winner Avatar, had the best explanation.

She said, "It looks blue after a few shots of Woodford Reserve."

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No means no

The Pittsburgh Steelers figure to make Illinois running back Rashard Mendenhall, the 23rd pick in the NFL draft, a rich man. But relatives looking for a handout better think twice if Mendenhall's mother has anything to say about it.

"I'm good at saying 'no' -- real good," Sybil Mendenhall told the Chicago Tribune. "There's going to be a lot of 'nos,' a lot of disappointed people. You can't take care of everybody.

"We've already sat down and talked to aunts, uncles, cousins. We had to. Everyone was making their list and checking it twice, thinking he's going to be Santa Claus, and it's just not going to be like that.

"We had to say, 'Whatever you're doing, continue doing it. Don't quit your day job. If you're driving a raggedy car, you'll still have a raggedy car next week."

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Hard hit

New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, who has gone eight years without talking to New York radio talk show hosts Mike Francesa and Chris "Mad Dog" Russo, participated in a panel discussion last week with Russo on HBO's "Costas Now."

Strahan told Russo: "Now the problem I have is you're not in that locker room. You don't understand the dynamics of a player. I mean, the last time you had a uniform on was when your mom took you trick-or-treating when you were 5."

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The short of it

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times recently offered this list of three thankful groups heading into the next Pacific 10 Conference football season:

* "Opposing linebackers who no longer have to tackle Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart."

* "Kick-coverage units who no longer have to tackle California return man DeSean Jackson."

* "Headline writers who no longer have to tackle Washington State kicker Romeen Abdollmohammadi."

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Cleaning house

The Portland Trail Blazers, or Jail Blazers as they used to be known in some circles, recently waived Darius Miles, whom the Clippers made the third overall pick in the 2000 NBA draft.

Noted the Oregonian's Jason Quick: "His release gives the Blazers a roster without any player who has been suspended or disciplined by the team or the NBA, the first time that has been the case in at least 15 years."

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Trivia answer

Bill Shoemaker, with 26. His winners were Swaps in 1955, Tommy Lee in '59, Lucky Debonair in '65, and Ferdinand in '86.

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And finally

Greg Cote of the Miami Herald, on a letter handwritten by Hank Aaron in 1951 selling at an auction for $24,150: "I'm thinking that unless the letter came in an envelope stuffed with about $24,000 cash, somebody overpaid."

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larry.stewart@latimes.com

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