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When it comes to horsing around, the kid beats Pops

October 26, 2008|T.J. SIMERS

I'm sure the kid goes to school, and it was a Saturday, but as good a horse racing handicapper as 12-year-old Andrea Torre proved to be, they might be breaking ground today on a new wing at Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA.

Instead, we got her father pulling an Andruw Jones and striking out in the first three races of the day.

Maybe they'll find a cure for cancer at Mattel's, but apparently on their own dime.

Andrea hit something like three or four winners in a row, while the old man was picking horses that looked as if they had been ridden by Jonathan Broxton.

Obviously tough for the old guy to take a bow, so the folks at Santa Anita asked him whether he'd present the trophy to the 36-1 horse that got lucky to win the second race knowing how much he had in common with the nag.

He finally won one, Andrea apparently breaking down and sharing some of her insight, which is odd, because it's not like she's going to need an allowance any time soon the way she was raking it in.

Then we came to the seventh race, one of his two choices in the morning paper, Cost Of Freedom, scratched. So he was asked to pick another.

Page 2 suggested Midnight Lute. So Joe Torre took Black Seventeen. No telling how many games the Dodgers might've won had he only listened.

Black Seventeen finished seventh, and there were only eight horses running, while Midnight Lute won. He agreed later that Page 2 was right, and after checking with the rules committee, it was deemed a victory for the Mattel kids so that it might encourage Torre to listen more to Page 2 in the future.

Now everywhere Torre went Saturday he was stopped by people, who should have been asking, "So who does Andrea like in this one?"

"I signed a lot of autographs, posed for a lot of pictures and promised everyone Manny would be back," Torre said. "That's what everyone wanted to tell me: You've got to sign Manny."

I started to say, "Frank McCourt should have been with you," but I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

When it came to the final race, I felt so much better, consulting first with Andrea, who liked Raven's Pass even though almost everyone else at the track was betting on Curlin.

Her dad had picked Raven's Pass too, father like daughter, and thank heavens, it proving to be a $5,000 winner for Mattel's.

So over two days, Torre subjecting himself to further Page 2 torment even though the season was over, he worked hard to win $24,000 for the kids on the cancer ward at Mattel's -- the money being donated in Torre's name by Breeders' Cup Charities.

Can't wait until next year to see how much Andrea can win for the kids.

IT WAS a little toasty in the sun, but Santa Anita has probably never looked better than the last two days, the folks at the Breeders' Cup putting on an outstanding show.

If the paying public had any problems, I'm sure Page 2 will hear about them. I know I never got the chance to meet Bo Derek, as racing board director David Israel promised. Twenty-three years ago, Bo and I made meaningful eye contact at the Hearns-Hagler fight, the crowd keeping us apart.

Israel said Bo would be sitting next to him, but later reported she must have decided to sit elsewhere -- like he was surprised.

When it came time to wrap up the two-day show, racing was dealt yet another blow. A few minutes before the final Breeders' Cup race of the day, the track announced more than $1 million had been bet on Curlin.

Then some four-legged critter who will become just a breeding footnote in racing history beats Curlin -- Curlin finishing fourth and out of the money so no one collects.

That sends everyone home moaning about their losses instead of chirping about the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch Curlin perform.

ONE MORE thing that hurts racing -- foreigners. They not only don't know it's the American way to walk down the right side of a staircase, but five of the nine races Saturday were won by Europeans.

Maybe the racing purists like that, but there aren't many of those as evidenced by the decline in attendance. Most folks don't get to see the foreigners run before the Breeders' Cup, and probably won't see them again until next year.

Now the foreigners will go back home, like most of the folks from L.A. who spent the last two days here watching horse racing.

THE TVG broadcasters from the horse racing channel, obviously aware ordinarily no one listens to them, couldn't contain themselves while pumping up Curlin.

"Let's listen to the crowd's reaction," TVG's Todd Schrupp said as Curlin came on the track -- the horse getting the same kind of reception as Pablo Ozuna when announced as a Dodgers pinch-hitter.

And that was before the snail finished fourth.

SOME GUY took several steps out of the crowd in what looked like an effort to touch Curlin, who was trying to ready himself for the race. I didn't find the fan's behavior, though, odd at all.

There were thousands of people who wrote letters to Barbaro, as if he had the time to read them while trying to avoid execution. It's amazing how thoughtless some folks can be.



The kids win

Manager Joe Torre picks 3 more winners; Mattel Children's Hospital bags $24,000.

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