Why do people shy from publicity after cashing a big wager as the group of five auto body workers did Thursday after winning a Maryland-record $414,243 on the Double Triple at Pimlico Race Course?
Most people are reluctant to come forward because they believe the sudden wealth may bring problems with people who otherwise would not know, i.e., family members, in-laws, employers, ex-spouses, long-lost friends, creditors and, of course, the Internal Revenue Service.
On Thursday, a group spokesman would permit only a telephone conference with reporters. It was strange, since he was on the second floor at Pimlico and his interviewers were on the fourth.
Although the racetrack's management always wants the gimmick to carry over -- enhancing handle and public interest -- once it's over, both management and the media like to get the full story. Whether that's self-serving or not, winners who are more willing to identify themselves and speak about what they accomplished are more identifiable for the public. The association of name and face to the feat makes for a better story and, therefore, better exposure for racing.
A national campaign is under way to honor Secretariat and other racing stars with commemorative postage stamps.
A horse never has been portrayed on a stamp, but a design has been made for a stamp depicting Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown winner who died in 1989.
Those wishing to advocate such a campaign can do so by writing to: Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee, U.S. Postal Service, 475 L'Enfant Plaza S.W., Washington, D.C. 20260.
* The Santa Anita Derby has been the foremost producer of Kentucky Derby winners in recent years (three of the last five), and many proponents say it's because the race is four weeks before the Derby.
The refrain is, "Trainers nowadays like to come into the Derby with a fresh horse," as Wayne Lukas told Racing Action magazine.
Not too long ago, that philosophy was not so widely embraced. In 1974, Woody Stephens raced Cannonade just seven days before the colt won the 100th Derby. In 1969, Majestic Prince also raced seven days before winning.
In the 1940s and '50s, Ben and Jimmy Jones regularly used the Derby Trial -- just four days before the Derby -- as a final steppingstone to success.
Who said the stars come out only at night?
Try the springtime. Some of Maryland's biggest equine names are returning to the track after layoffs of varying length.
Racing in the next several weeks will be Little Bold John, Wind Splitter, Baron de Vaux, Valay Maid, Cojinx, Devilish Touch and Noblest Heart.
Nationally, the biggest "name" horse with an impending comeback is Summer Squall, winner of last year's Preakness. The colt is expected in the Ben Ali Handicap at Keeneland on April 25. After that, he's scheduled to run against Unbridled, Farma Way and Jolie's Halo in the Pimlico Special on May 11.
* Bayakoa, the two-time Eclipse Award and Breeders' Cup winner, will go for the all-time earnings record for a female runner April 19.
The 7-year-old mare runs in the $500,000 Apple Blossom Stakes at Oaklawn Park. A victory would be worth $300,000 and give her a career total of $3,117,524, surpassing Lady's Secret ($3,021,425).
Win, lose or draw, Bayakoa will be retired and bred to Strawberry Road. She won the 1989 Apple Blossom, then was upset by Gorgeous in last year's renewal at 1-10 odds.
For all she's done, it's a shame that many people will forever associate Bayakoa with one race: The tragic 1990 Breeders' Cup Distaff, which she won when Go for Wand fell at the sixteenth pole.
* Mr. and Mrs. Bayard Sharp, breeders of Baron de Vaux, have been named the 1990 Maryland Breeders of the Year by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association.
tTC The MHBA named Carnivalay top stallion and Safely Home, dam of Safely Kept, was named top broodmare.
The awards will be presented at the MHBA's annual dinner April 26 at Pimlico. For information, call 252-2100.