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T.J. SIMERS

Torre couldn't help Dodgers' kids, but can help these kids

October 24, 2008|T.J. SIMERS

Breeders' Cup Charities wants to give the kids on the cancer ward at Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA $50,000 this weekend, so long as Dodger Manager Joe Torre knows what he's doing.

Don't worry, kids, this has nothing to do with who comes out of the bullpen.

The Breeders' Cup, a two-day racing extravaganza at Santa Anita, begins today with five championship races for the females followed by nine races for the guys on Saturday.

Torre will be here the next two days because he sent the Phillies to the World Series, taking the time now for the kids' benefit to make a pair of selections for each race. That makes what he's doing here far more interesting than anything the Phillies are doing.

A winning selection in one of the Classic races will earn $5,000 for the children's cancer ward. If his second choice also finishes in the money, Breeders' Cup Charities will donate an additional $2,000.

Zenyatta is favored to win the Ladies Classic, Curlin the Classic, and that's $10,000 easy dollars for the kids as long as Torre doesn't fall in love with some nag who reminds him of Chan Ho Park.

As for the other dozen races, a Torre winner will earn $2,000 for the kids along with a $1,000 bonus if his second choice finishes second or third.

If Torre is perfect, and remember how long it took him to identify Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier as winners, he can collect as much as $50,000 for the hospital.

Now I know what the kids are thinking. What, was Gary Stevens, Bob Mieszerski or someone who knows something about horse racing not available?

Well, let me tell you, kids, Torre is not only a race horse owner -- eight at last count -- but owner of Vineyard Haven, who looks like the favorite to win next May's Kentucky Derby.

So we're talking a legitimate horseman here, kids, and more important than that, when he first came to L.A. he moved into the home of trainer extraordinaire Bobby Frankel.

Frankel is his friend, and I know this, because as soon as I get here, Frankel wants to chew me out for never writing anything nice about Torre. I mention something about the Juvenile, and he says what's wrong with Torre going to Clayton Kershaw?

It's a good bet, though, Frankel dropped a tip or two on Torre, so it's not like he's making these picks with his eyes closed. Only does that while filling out his lineup.

"I like Ginger Punch," Torre says in explaining just how far he's gone in trying to pick winners, "because that's the name of Bobby's two dogs, Ginger and Punch."

IRELAND & MASON had Frank McCourt on the radio, and when they asked about Manny Ramirez, the owner repeatedly referred to Ramirez as "the player," rather than by name. He's already forgotten the guy's name?

An Internet report has the Dodgers preparing a two-year deal approaching $27 million a year for Ramirez, knowing full well he won't take it. But it will give the owner a chance to say he tried to make the player rich, but he couldn't force him to take it.

Ramirez has said he's interested in a six-year deal, his way of joking, but always with a hint of truth attached. This will most likely be his final contract, so he's looking for at least four years.

The owner knows that, but the owner will be offering the player two years so the Dodgers don't have to sign him.

Wonder if "the fans" buy it.

I'M A believer in jockeys, settling on Alex Solis the last time the Breeders' Cup was here, Solis then winning the Bill Shoemaker award as top jockey of the day and donating $1,000 to Mattel's.

This year I give you two winners, one for each day.

No jockey has ever won three races in the same Breeders' Cup, but Mike Smith might do it riding only three horses today.

The key to Smith's day will be Dearest Trickski, a hunch play for Page 2 because Miss Radio Personality's nickname at home is Trickster.

"She's training really well," Smith says, so she's really nothing like the Trickster I know.

Smith also rides favorite Stardom Bound, before finishing on Zenyatta, maybe the best horse here.

As for Saturday, no reason to know anything about racing other than the number of the horse Garrett Gomez is on. He will ride in all nine races, "and my biggest fear," says Gomez, "is getting blanked."

Little chance of that, and how about the long shot of the weekend from Page 2: Gomez on Go Between to beat the heavily-favored Curlin in the Classic.

Take the winnings, and then buy the Dodgers from the owner.

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t.j.simers@latimes.com

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