Even as Pimlico officials prepare for next week's 116th Preakness, a lot of race fans are excited about another -- and richer -- race to be run at Old Hilltop this Saturday.
The Pimlico Special that day will bring together last year's Kentucky Derby winner, Unbridled, and Preakness champion Summer Squall. This will be the first time the two have been on a track together since last Preakness Day.
The Pimlico Special is a $750,000 race. The Preakness purse is $500,000-added.
Another thing that adds luster to the Special is that in 12 of the last 25 years the race has been run, it has produced the Horse of the Year.
Unbridled was due to arrive at Pimlico today. Summer Squall has been on the grounds since late last week.
Derby winner Strike the Gold, a son of Alydar, is scheduled to arrive here Wednesday.
* It didn't look like it Saturday in the first game of the NBA playoff series between Philadelphia and Chicago (the Bulls won, 105-92), but take it from Baltimore native Gene Shue: The Sixers have a good shot to win the series.
"Everybody looks at the standings and sees that Chicago won 61 games and we didn't do nearly that well [44-38]," says Shue, now finishing his first year as Philly's general manager. "But that's not the way it is.
"The truth is we match up very well with the Bulls. Chicago is going to have a hard time beating us."
We'll see about that as the series resumes tonight, again in Chicago, before swinging over to Philadelphia's Spectrum.
* University of Maryland athletic director Andy Geiger did a classy thing over the weekend at the 51st McCormick Unsung Heroes Awards banquet. As the featured speaker he was given a cash honorarium, which he immediately donated to the university for a women's basketball scholarship.
Geiger, in a mere eight months, has changed Maryland from a school consumed by negatives to a place where optimism reigns. Said Geiger during the social hour at Hunt Valley:
"I'm a builder. When I got to Maryland I said, 'Let's go out and be wonderful.' Now people have more confidence. Look at Joe Krivak and how much confidence he has now. We have a way to go and there are some bumps in the road, but we're getting there."
Charles P. "Buzzy" McCormick, the spice company's chairman and CEO, is on a roll with speakers for the Unsung Heroes banquet. The last three, Geiger, Roger Staubach and Bullets coach Wes Unseld, have been outstanding. The only one who received a standing ovation was -- surprise -- Unseld.
* As Dick Schaap of ABC-TV and ESPN ages, he's beginning to look like Curt Gowdy, which is not exactly like saying he looks like Robert Redford. I can get away with that because Dick and I have been friends since we were classmates at Columbia. I have a world of respect for the guy. Even in those days back at Broadway and 116th it was obvious he was going places.
* Ever draw a complete blank on something you saw but have no memory of? That's the way I am with the reminder from the Orioles that on this day 23 years ago, Dave Leonhard had a no-hitter for 7 2/3 innings and beat Detroit, 1-0, on a one-hitter.
Leonhard was 7-7 that year. In six years in the big leagues, all with the Orioles, he was 16-14. I remember that part.
* At halftime of the Towson State-Johns Hopkins lacrosse game Saturday night at Minnegan Stadium the score was tied, 7-7. Towson spent halftime out on the field as juniors John Blatchley and Carl Beernink were being honored before a sellout crowd of 5,500. Meanwhile, Hopkins coach Tony Seaman took his team to the locker room to prepare for the second half.
After the third period began, Hopkins scored five unanswered goals and took a 12-7 lead. The final score was 12-9. Devoting halftime to an awards ceremony may not have lost the game for Towson, but it didn't help.