The trifecta isn't exactly a Triple Crown

This Just In...

April 24, 2002|By Dan Rodricks

OUR HEART goes out to the fellow who hit the trifecta at Pimlico on Friday, April 12, which we recognize as being but three days before federal and state income taxes were - and always are - due. A buddy told us this story over coffee a week ago, and we can't stop thinking about its central character. To protect his identity - and his pride - we will refer to him by his birth name of John or, in the interest of preserving the racetrack tradition of railbirds having nicknames, we will anoint him Johnny Goin' for the Trey.

Johnny Goin' hit the trifecta in the eighth race. That means he picked the first three finishers among seven horses - in order. It wasn't the biggest field in Pimlico history. Seven is not 10, nor is it 12. But understand something: Johnny Trey picking the first three finishers - that is a special accomplishment. That is something I have never done in 25 years of going to Old Hilltop at least once a year. I have hit winners. I have hit exactas - maybe twice. I have hit the guy standing next to me when my horse got disqualified. But I have never hit a trifecta, and I have since lost my patience and my nerve for them.

Not to mention too much money to mention.

Triples can pay nicely. That's the thing.

The day Johnny Goin' went to Pimlico with his friends, trifectas in the first seven races paid $310, $410, $59.40, $196.20, $73.60, $283.20 and $196.60.

You see what I mean? Triples give you bragging rights.

But when Johnny Goin' for the Trey's numbers finally fell into place - when, even with a relatively small field, he was able to pick not only the winner, not only the winner and the second-place horse, but the winner, the second-place and the third-place horse - the tote board rang up $16.20.

Sixteen dollars and twenty cents for a trifecta. That is an outrage. The state Racing Commission should institute a base minimum for hitting a trifecta at Pimlico, no matter how pathetic the field or the handle. The minimum should be at least $20. Twenty dollars for a man's self-esteem. No one should have to suffer the indignity that Johnny Goin' for the Trey did.

Signs of confusion

We're a little confused. As you're heading into the city on Russell Street, there's a big sign outside a gas station offering "New York Fried Chicken." Yeah, like Memphis Pastrami. ... And then there's the Danish Foods store on Rolling Road near Security mall. TJI reader Gary Leventhal went inside, and he liked the place but he didn't find what he was hoping for - "cold water fish, interesting deli or some Nordic potato marvel, or canned hams." Instead, Leventhal found a convenience store with Indian and Pakistani staples; he bought a can of coconut milk, fresh mangoes and 5 pounds of Basmati rice. So it's not a Danish food store. As Leventhal learned, it's Danish Foods, named after the Pakistani man who owns the store.

A helping hand

Carrie Scheel, a University of Baltimore student who waits on tables at Della Rose's Avenue Tavern in White Marsh, planned to drive to Florida last week to be with her dad, who was scheduled for heart surgery.

"She was driving because she couldn't afford the airfare," reports Linda Della Rose, whose family runs the tavern. "The other employees at the restaurant took up a collection [about $400], bought Carrie the airplane ticket, and she [flew] to Florida to be with her dad."

Very nice, and maybe customers could remember that when it's time to tip this week.

Run or ride

For those few Americans who did not get into the Boston Marathon last week, there's the Cardinal Cup and Fun Run, a 5K road race Saturday morning, sponsored by - and starting at - the Cathedral Of Mary Our Queen School, for the benefit of Mother Seton Academy, the tuition-free middle school for economically deprived kids in East Baltimore. Call 410-464-4100.

Meanwhile, Dick "The Wild One" Gelfman of WJZ-TV reminds bikers of the upcoming (June 1-2) Ride Across Maryland, a two-day, 200-mile motorcycle trek from Columbia to Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County.

"Last year, our first year of operation, we thought that with a little work and a lot of luck, we might be able to raise $20,000," says Gelfman. "But ... we were able to present the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation with a check for $100,000."

For more information, call 443-629-8300. Gelfman expects 1,000 bikers for this year's ride. Look for G Man on a HOG.

A view for Waters

John Waters must know this - or maybe he heard it from someone who wised up before I did - but Star Jones could absolutely be the next Divine, and whatever John-boy's forthcoming project, Star should have the leading role. It could not only give his career a boost, but ensure J.W. an appearance on The View with Barbara WaWa. This has "win" written all over it.

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