Sister Faye takes a special look at Preakness

May 20, 1994|By John Steadman

Not having a winner since Garfield -- his presidency was cut short by assassination in 1881 -- and going through a long and distinguished line of handicappers, the continuing Preakness frustration of drawing nothing but blanks caused a bankrupt sportswriter to seek out the assistance of the Rev. Sister Faye, who is located within a furlong or two of Pimlico and, for no other reason than proximity, should have a good feel for the subject.

Sister Faye, however, has never forecast a horse race. Once prevailed upon and realizing the desperation of the caller, she responded with compassion, understanding and a helping hand. There were no crystal ball, tarot cards, seance or incense burning. Sister Faye didn't even wear a turban.

Until this moment, the good Sister Faye has refused to enter into predicting the outcome of sports events. Nor lotteries, bingo games or goat ropings. That's not her bag.

"I don't give a lot of interviews, but I'm going to make an exception, just this once," she said. "No future is pre-destined. I deal with the presence of today. You have to go by the weather, that's a factor. The tides and a full moon are considerations."

Absolutely. No quarrel with that. It's generally understood that Go For Gin, the Kentucky Derby champion, would prefer the racing surface at Pimlico have the consistency of Chesapeake Bay. He could swim for it. "Horses are like people," she advised. And in this respect she'll get no argument.

"You have to stop to listen to nature," she continued. "Nature is God and God is nature. I'm not a palmist, a psychic or into the occult. I have helped people in various ways. Some have lost their faith. I've tried to restore it, to assist them in finding their way back, some from drugs, alcohol and other obsessions."

Sister Faye, deeply religious, was born in Nashville but admittedly doesn't know much about Tennessee Walking Horses or the thoroughbred kind that run in the Preakness. Still, that doesn't pre-empt Sister from having certain vibrations regarding the outcome of the second portion of the Triple Crown series. Some professional handicappers, to be blunt but not sacrilegious, don't have a prayer.

"If the weather is good, you can forget Go For Gin," she advised. "Unless the weather changes, I have a strong feeling for some others."

Yes, Sister, and could you offer your opinion? The Preakness winner is what we're after. Our own studies of past performance charts, plus bloodlines, haven't taken us anywhere except to meet with hard times. Down and out ... so broke that if it cost 25 cents to cross the street we couldn't have afforded the toll.

It's interesting to know Sister Faye's mother was from Yugoslavia, her father from Russia. She says the remarkable gift of extraordinary perception was possessed by both her mother and grandmother so, in a way, it's inherited.

"My own two children haven't displayed it as yet," she remarked. "Sometimes it skips a generation. I've had it almost all my life, from the time I was 10 years old."

As for being called "Sister," her mother decided on that. A session with Sister Faye costs $20 but the fee is returnable if you're not satisfied, which is a much better deal than the mutuel window offers.

Has she had a lot of calls from racetrack players and other kinds of bettors?

"Yes, I hear from them all the time," she said. "but I explain I can't do it. Some promise me they'll split the pot. But if I could do that I'd be at the racetrack all the time. I wouldn't have to be doing what I'm doing."

The Preakness field this time around brings with it a degree of sameness, which means it's a wide-open race. Keeping this in mind, what does Sister Faye anticipate?

"Some names jump right out," she answers. "I feel good about the chances of Blumin Affair. And Tabasco Cat gives me certain vibrations. Then Numerous and Kandaly. Having to make a choice between those two, I'd name Numerous."

It must be emphasized that Sister Faye isn't looking to create Preakness millionaires, or, conversely, send any of us away from the track on a mission to hock the family jewels. As for the coveted information, she sees Blumin Affair, Tabasco Cat and Numerous in 1-2-3 finish-line order.

"But I want to stress I don't do destinies," she said. "Reminding you again, if it rains, put Go For Gin back in the picture."

The words from Sister Faye are born of honest conviction. She's no tout. You can trust taking that to the betting window, if not the bank.

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