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T.J. SIMERS

As if by magic, Torre's in the money, and so are kids

October 25, 2008|T.J. SIMERS

I was having this discussion with Abby Cadabby, and frankly, it wasn't going well.

Until the other day I had no idea who Abby Cadabby was, but now she's staying in my house, and while it's a fine Halloween costume for the granddaughter, I thought a fairy-in-training would be more helpful.

I just wanted to borrow her magic wand for a day or two to get the best out of Joe Torre during the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita. It's not as if she's using it for the good of mankind -- her father looking just the same as always while lying on the couch.

"Gotta poof," she says, and ordinarily G.P.'s having nothing to do with that, but apparently that means she's out of here.

Now I know she has the power to turn things into pumpkins, so of course I'll be introducing her to Marcus Camby soon, but she also has the ability to float when she's happy.

I have no idea why they want to teach kids to get high so early in life, but that's "Sesame Street" for you, a Big Bird figuring prominently in every kid's life. That might explain why Miss Radio Personality has had so much trouble finding Mr. Right.

Anyway, it just takes a bribery bag of M&Ms -- later in life new shoes, and then a car if she's anything like her mother -- but I get the wand and one of the first people I meet at Santa Anita is R.D. Hubbard.

I don't even have to wave it. You remember Hubbard, the man who was going to put a football stadium at Hollywood Park and bring the NFL back to L.A. Here's a guy who could've used a wand, the NFL beating him to it and making Al Davis disappear, the Hollywood Park plan then going up in smoke.

Anyway, I mumble something about kids, Abby Cadabby and the granddaughter, and Hubbard just blurts out, "If my horse wins its Breeders' Cup race Saturday, I will give $50,000 to the kids at Mattel's."

I check with witnesses, and they heard him: $50,000.

"If it finishes second, I'll make it $20,000," Hubbard says, and I'm beginning to understand this whole business about floating in air.

Hubbard's horse is Spring House, No. 8 in the Breeders' Cup Turf, 10-1 on the morning line and do you believe in magic?

No other way to explain Torre's showing Friday. Breeders' Cup Charities has set aside a pool of $50,000, challenging Torre to pick winners over two days here, the kids at Mattel Children's Hospital the beneficiaries.

Torre not only nailed the winner in the first race, but in five races he did better than the best handicappers here, predicting the winner in three of them. He's already won $12,000 for Mattel's.

"The first one was exciting," says Torre, sitting beside Bobby Frankel, trainer of Ventura and winner of the first race. "Bobby doesn't get emotional, but he was hugging me."

I thought about mentioning Andruw Jones, Jason Schmidt and how good the Dodgers might be if he's really nice to Abby Cadabby this Halloween, but no reason to distract him with nine more races to go today.

THE IRELAND & Mason show on 710, or whatever they call it, was broadcasting from the far end of the track, closer to the Rose Bowl than the finish line.

They asked if I'd join them to chat about the Dodgers and whether I thought Frank McCourt was a double-talking, image-minded loser of an owner.

"You come to the track to do your radio show and you talk about the Dodgers," I began.

"It's horse racing," they said.

A few minutes later the horses ran by, the crowd cheered and I began to understand why Ireland & Mason were doing their show here. It sounded as if folks were cheering because of what they had to say, and that never happens.

THE TOP three handicappers in Southern California are Toby Turrell (horseplayerpro.com), Bob Baedeker ( quinzloam@yahoo.com) and Bob Ike (bobikepicks.com), so I thought with today's Breeders' Cup in mind and a $2 bet maybe more meaningful now than anyone's 401(k), it'd be helpful to see who fared the best on Day 1.

Each of the handicappers nailed a pair of outright winners, and considering the fact Torre picked three outright winners, maybe Torre's in the wrong profession. Not the first time that's been suggested.

Turrell picked three horses in each race, and seven of them finished in the money.

Baedecker, who is related to Rick Baedecker, so he's under a lot more stress than the other two, had the top three finishers in order in the first Breeders' Cup race, and nine of his horses placed first, second or third.

The day's big winners were those using Ike's selections, 11 of 15 horses he mentioned paying off in one way or another.

A word of caution: If Steve Brener, L.A.'s top PR guy, ever approaches you with a hot tip, run as fast as you can to avoid hearing anything he has to say.

"I don't want anyone else to know, so I can't even say it out loud," Brener said while circling No. 8 in the last race of the day.

No. 9 won the last race. No. 10 finished second. No. 6 got third. No. 4 ran fourth.

The word obviously never got out, No. 8 never getting the message it was supposed to do something special.

TODAY'S LAST word comes in e-mail from Angel S.:

"Why do you write about horse racing? I know it's for the kids, but a whole column?"

For the kids? How about three whole columns.

--

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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