ELMONT, NY. — ELMONT, N.Y. -- There's a reason why the swift and sturdy Sewickley won't be in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint at Belmont Park Saturday.
There's a secretary who doesn't work for Robert S. Evans any more. There's a connection.
Last year Evans had to pay a $120,000 supplementary fee to enter the colt he bred on his New Jersey farm.
It was discovered too late that nominations had been sent in for all of Evans' horses except Sewickley.
Inasmuch as Sewickley had won six races and more than $500,000, it seemed not a bad idea to supplement. It seemed better when Sewickley was made the lukewarm 3.80-1 favorite in the 13-horse field.
After last year's race, jockey Randy Romero came back grumbling about "the seven horse." Trainer Scotty Schulhofer demanded to know "how the seven could bother the one."
"Then I saw the films," Schulhofer said. A left turn out of the gate by Sam Who (No. 12) had sent six horses reeling in Sewickley's direction.
Because Sam Who was summarily disqualified, Sewickley got fifth money, $50,000, for a net loss of $70,000. Such are the vagaries of overpopulated 13-horse sprint fields.
There will be 14 in the gate Saturday and Evans isn't having any this time. Sewickley is primed for the NYRA Mile on Nov. 3, in which the Breeders' Cup sprinters presumably will be too pooped to participate.
"I'd love to run him in the Breeders' Cup," Schulhofer said. "I think he could win it. But it's not a good deal."
It's a bad deal. It has irked horsemen since the first Breeders' Cup in 1984 that the supplementary antes do not go in the pot. They go into the next year's purses "to the extent such funds are not utilized for general operating and promotional expenses."
The odds aren't attractive either. Roughly speaking, it takes a second-place finish to show a profit. Two years ago Waquoit's people paid $360,000 to enter him in the $3 million Classic. He ran third and collected $342,000.
In the first two years three supplementary horses won: Wild Again in the $3 million Classic in '84 and Pebbles in the $2 million Turf and Tasso in the $1 million Juvenile in '85.
The next to show a profit was Bayakoa, whose management put up $200,000 last year for her to win the Distaff and $500,000.
In all there were 22 supplementaries in the first six years and 17 lost money.
Sewickley wouldn't have been the favorite in this year's Sprint, but he would have been respected.
Racing secretary Bruce Lombardi paid Sewickley high compliment last month when he assigned him 139 pounds for the fall highweight. It was rather flattering, considering that Sewickley hadn't won a race all year. (He had four seconds and two thirds in seven starts.)
It seemed like a good idea in 1914 to have a six-furlong race every autumn in which the top weight would be 140. Racing secretaries have been more benign in recent years. Only one winner has carried 140 since Ta Wee in 1970.
"Now, you tell me," Schulhofer said of Ta Wee. "How is she not in the Hall of Fame?"
Flint Scott Schulhofer is 64. He is healthy, for a guy who caught a piece of shrapnel on the way to the Rhine and rode jumpers for 12 years; solvent, if not wealthy, since the persistent Cryptoclearance began finishing in the money for him in 1986; and as wise as a half-century of horses can make a man.
But no man forgets his first sweetheart. Ta Wee set no speed records like her big (by two years) half-brother, Dr. Fager. But she carried more weight, and won with it.
Dr. Fager's 1:20 1/5 under 139 pounds for the seven-furlong Vosburgh has stood for 22 years as one of racing's most remarkable achievements. The following year Ta Wee won that race with 123, the Interborough with 124 and the Highweight with 130.
The next year, at 4, she took on some cargo. Ta Wee won (in order) the Correction with 131, the Hempstead with 132, the Regret with 136, the Highweight with 140 and the Interborough with 142.
She was second in the Distaff and the Gravesend with 134 each. For reference, consider that the most Secretariat ever carried was 126.
By the time Ta Wee retired, Scotty Schulhofer wasn't anybody's assistant any more.
"I've never had so many good horses," he said as he looked down the shedrow yesterday. He has 36 horses in Belmont Barn 31, including Fly So Free, who won't be worse than third choice in the Juvenile Saturday.
And Scan, a handsome son of Mr. Prospector, would be in the Juvenile "if it weren't asking too much of him." Scan will run the next day in the Cowdin, against the impressive Imaginary Gold, trained by Sonny Hine.
Schulhofer has a dozen horses with his son, Randy, at Churchill Downs, and another 25 or so at Saratoga. He has no thought of retiring.
"Still have a lot of things to do," Scotty said. Like lobby Ta Wee into the Hall of Fame.