02/06/2015 1:31PM

Hovdey: Correspondence and miscellany


We get letters. Most of them we read. Some we even answer.

Dear Mr. Hovdey,

Lately you’ve written about Art Sherman, who is 77, Ron McAnally and Allen Jerkens, both eighty-somethings, and John Nerud, who turns one hundred and freakin’ two on Monday. I’ve heard horse racing is a young person’s game, so I was wondering if there’s anyone you ever find worth talking to in their 60’s.

With guarded respect,

P. de Leon

Dear P.,

You make a good point. I hadn’t realized I was spending so much time in the geriatric ward. It’s just that these guys are so darned grateful when anybody calls, they’ll give me 500 words without taking a deep breath. After that all I need to do is lash together a few raw facts, a little bit of old racetrack wisdom, and the nightmare of writing this column is over.

Then again, you find me another guy who can beat Secretariat with two different horses, or train Dr. Fager, or John Henry, or even the next California Chrome, and I’ll beat a path to their stable door. As far as that goes, some of my best friends are in their 40s. I just wish they’d stop calling me “pops.”

Dear Pinhead,

Let me know when you get tired of sucking up to jockeys like you did in a recent column, because I’m tired of burning money on bad rides. They got a license to steal and you know it, and besides that, they all drive German cars.

Fed up,

E. Pound

Dear E.P.,

I’ll admit I’ve had a soft spot for riders ever since the saddle slipped on a pony I was riding at a Montana farm and I ended up underneath the horse on a slow slide to the ground. I was 10.

You’ve obviously made up what little there is to your mind. But while we’re on the subject, please note that jockeys do as much if not more than any other group of non-contract athletes to help each other in times of dire need. If you doubt that, show up at Indiana Grand at the end of May when an all-star collection of riding greats (Pincay, Turcotte, Day, McCarron, Hawley, etc.) will gather to raise awareness of and money for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. And if Indiana Grand rings a bell, that’s where apprentice Juan Saez was killed last October in a pari-mutuel horse race. He was 17.

Dear Homer,

Why don’t you get mad anymore? I liked reading you much better when you wrote angry. What’s happened? You have a stroke? Somebody get to you?


R. Serling

Dear R.S.,

Sigh. Truth be told, sometimes a writer can lapse into a sadness that leaves no room for getting mad. How else would you react to this, from our far-flung correspondent in The Netherlands, where an outfit called the Unwanted Animal Kitchen is cooking up a storm:

“Getting people to buy horse burgers is a difficult thing to do, especially in Holland where eating horse is not the norm. Rather than relying on taste and aesthetics to market the food, [Kitchen owner Rob] Hagenouw uses storytelling to gain loyal customers. Special dinner parties are held which bring together hunters, chefs, and eaters together at a multi-house dinner where they can share their stories and learn about the journey of the locally sourced food.”

In case you’re wondering, the menu item reads “My Little Pony Burgers.”

Dear Typist,

What’s become of Garrett Gomez? Do your job. Find out what he’s doing, if he’s ever going to ride again, and if there’s going to be a sequel to his book about “A Jockey’s Journey Through Addiction & Salvation” called “And Back Again.”

Just wondering,

F. Domino

Dear F.D.,

Believe me, I’ve tried, though clearly not hard enough. Gomez at his best was a marvel. He had evolved into a money rider of the first rank, and his raw revelations about his addiction were stunningly honest. Then – poof! – toward the end of 2013 he pulls a Keyser Soze. If he does not surface soon, and at least gives his fans a regal wave, I fear he may be edged from the Hall of Fame ballot he so deservedly made last year.

Hey you,

I know you’re a big football fan (ha ha), but I didn’t read anywhere what your favorite Super Bowl commercial was. I’m betting it was the Budweiser ad with the Clydesdale and the cute puppy, ‘cause I know you are an absolute sucker for that kind of sappy crap.


W. Blitzer

Dear W.,

Just so you know, I did not enjoy the Budweiser ad. In fact, I was rooting for the wolf because he looked hungry, and Labrador puppies are so very tasty.

My favorite spot was “Like a Girl.” I’m still not sure what it was selling, but it brought to mind one of my favorite stories from the missus, Julie Krone, who was hanging with Alex Solis in the Santa Anita jocks’ room after a race one day when some lamebrain thought he’d cut Solis to the macho quick by hurling at him the deadly accusation, “You ride like a girl.”

Solis and Krone, one in the Hall of Fame and the other on the way, exchanged the briefest of glances, then Solis replied:

“Thank you.”