THE SPORTING VIEWS
Preakness Day .. .
..more- than a horse race
By BILLY SAHN
' HE PREAKNESS, the second leg of the prestigious Triple Crown of
thoroughbred horse racing, is hardly the place for a cross between
the Hash Bash and a Michigan football game.
For the horses and their backers and jockeys, the atmosphere was one of
the conservative horse racing elite. But for the forty thousand to fifty
thousand people on the infield of Pimlico, it was a carnival type atmosphere.
The 103rd running of the Preakness took place on a beautiful May day.
The weather was perfect-not a cloud in the sky and temperatures in the up-
per 80's. The crowds just soaked in the sun's rays.
My trip from Washington began early that morning. Nearing the
Pimlico exit on I-95, the traffic began building up. Approaching the race
track, the price of parking consistently increased from $1.50 to $8.00. The
small Pimlico parking lot could not match the expected droves. Enterprising
people opened up their yards to the onslaught of autos, while boys and girls
made a mint selling lemonade.
The five dollar entrance fee was just the beginning. The soda, beer,
franks, and of course the betting was yet to come.
Out for a good time
The solid five hours before the big event went by at a steady pace. The
wait was eased by three bands-rock and roll, bluegrass and soul.
"I am just here for a good time," said a girl from Silver Springs,
Maryland. "I don't know which horse is which; I'm here for the scenery."
It was quite a scene-Americana at its best. On one side of the track
were the wealthy, older elite of the state and of the sport. On the other side
were the youth. Both groups co-existed independently of each other.
The hordes of people and purpose of the day brought to mind memories
of Michigan Stadium and the Diag on April 1. Only the trivialities of the day
were different. Horse racing was the sport and beer was the common sub-
The eight races before the Preakness went by slowly. If it weren't for the
opposing crowds on the other side of the track, I would have easily forgotten
that I was at a horse race. One could barely make out the track announcer's
voice above the strum of guitars.
Mouth or mount
As the clock neared post time for the ninth race, I could feel the anxiety
building. As I made my way across ground covered with empty beer bottles,
the talk was of Affirmed and Alydar. Squeezed against the fence about ten
yards past the finish line, I myself felt anxious for post time.
The horses paraded past the grandstands with jockeys atop. From my
position, I'm not sure who got more attention-Howard Cosell and his mouth
or Steve Cauthen and his mount.
The bell rang and the gate flew open. The reason why I was there-to see
the Preakness-lasted a split second as the horses sped by the small portion
of track in my view.
Peering over the wire fence I saw the odds board flashing: "Photo."
Like a wave, the names of Alydar and Affirmed worked their way
through the crowd.
The next sight was that of Cauthen's fist clenched above his head.
History had been made. Preakness Day was quite a scene at Pimlico's
infield. But next year, I think I'll stick with television. You win Howard.
Billy Sahn is a Daily Sports night editor, working on Capitol Hill this spring.
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MARC STUDENT HOUSING
FALL AND WINTER 1978-79
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Rdeamus ad antra.
Bill Walton Muhammad Al
Walton, Ali honored
for athletic prowess
By The Associated Press
NEW YORK - Bill Walton of the
Portland Trail Blazers has been
selected the National Basketball
Association's most valuable player for
,the 1977-78 season, it was announced
In avote of NBA players, Walton
received 96 votes to 801/s for scoring
champion George Gervin of the San An-
tonio Spurs. David Thompson of the
Denver Nuggets was third with 28
followed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of
the Los Angeles Lakers with 14. Abdul-
Jabbar had won the award for each of
the last two seasons.
ALSO RECEIVING votes were
Walter Davis of Phoenix, 4; Paul West-
phal of Phoenix and Maurice Lucas of
Portland, 3 each. Truck Robinson of
New Orleans and Artis Gilmore of
Chicago, 2 each; and 1 each for
Marques Johnson of Milwaukee, Mar-
vin Webster of Seattle, Julius Erving of
Philadelphia, Bob Lanier of Detroit and
Bob McAdoo of New York.
Walton helped the Trail Blazers win
50 of their first 60 games before being
sidelined for the remainder of the
season, first because of surgery on his
right foot and then with an injury to his
left foot. He played in two playoff
games before breaking his left ankle.
For 58 games, Walton averaged 18.9
points and 13.2 rebounds per game.
* * *
Muhammad Ali received more than
twice as many first-place votes as run-
ner-up Jack Nicklaus in the poll to
determine the "Athlete of the Decade."
RESULTS OF voting by a select
panel of sports writers and broad-
casters gave the former heavyweight
boxing champion 47 first-place -votes
compared to 20 for Nicklaud, the all-
time winningest golfer, and 9 for
baseball's Hank Aaron, who broke
Babe Ruth's career home run record.
Here is the vote tally of the 13
finalists, with points based on a
cascading scale and first-place votes in
parenthesis: Ali 1,158 points (47);
Nicklaus 1,048 (20); Aaron 1,006 (9);
Pele 925 (10); John Havlicek 849 (11);
0. J. Simpson 840 (1); Bobby Orr 681
(3); Rod Carew 658 (2); Billie Jean
King 606 (2); Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
592; Chris Evert 515; A. J. Foyt 434 (2);
and Tom Seaver 421.
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