Groomer job not so bad

Mar 22, 2005 12:48 AM

USA Today ranks a racetrack groom as the "worst job in sports."

OK, but here’s a few that were close:

  • PR man for Barry Bonds

  • Pete Rose’s tax consultant

  • Dick Vitale’s speech coach

  • Volume technician for Chris Berman

  • Julio Canani’s interpreter

  • PR man for Bobby Knight

  • Dietician for Tommy Lasorda

  • Jose Canseco’s ethics coach

  • Bobby Frankel’s Kentucky Derby mentor

  • Andy Reid’s extrovert coach

  • Makeup man for Peter Gammons

  • Dermatologist for Randy Johnson

  • Orthodontist for Reggie Miller and Bill Walton

  • Mike Tyson’s chaperone

  • Tonya Harding’s etiquette coach

  • Spandex manufacturer for Sumo wrestlers

  • John Chaney’s anger management tutor

  • Superintendent for California tracks

  • Dynasty coach for Los Angeles Clippers

  • World Series mentor for Chicago Cubs

  • Dental floss provider to Tiger Woods

  • Time-management consultant to Randy Moss

  • Contract law advisor to Ricky Williams

  • A.C. Green’s supplier for safe sex

  • Profanity monitor at World Series of Poker

  • Cleavage control constable for Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue

  • The guy who hooks on worms at a bass fishing tournament

  • Chaperone for Kobe Bryant

  • Free throw instructor for Shaquille O’Neal

  • Dennis Rodman’s body piercer

  • George Steinbrenner’s human resources manager

  • Latrell Sprewell’s comedy writer

  • Yao Ming’s launderer

  • Jimmy Johnson’s hair spray supplier

  • Fly swatter in race track barn area

  • Lance Armstrong’s goggles cleaner

  • Zamboni operator in National Hockey League

  • Plastic surgeon for Evel Knievel.

At least those jobs have a future. It could be worse. You could be a suicide bomber.

The homestretch

The end of Hollywood Park as a thoroughbred venue after more than half a century and the start of a major one at Los Alamitos could be at least two years away. All hinges on Three P’s: politics, power plays and paper work.

It was announced Thursday that McDonald’s franchise magnate and horse owner Mike Pegram is pursuing a partnership that could change the face of thoroughbred racing in Southern California by bringing it to the lucrative Orange County market at an upgraded Los Al. It’s all thanks to Pegram’s commitment of $40 million in capital improvement.

Pegram said a recent announcement by Churchill Downs Incorporated, which acquired Hollywood Park in September 1999, that CDI is exploring options (read sale) for its 240-acre property in Inglewood. CDI’s plans accelerated his interest in a deal with Los Al. This could have an immediate and hopefully short-term affect on Southern California racing.

"It will create insecurity on the part of some horsemen," said veteran agent Richie Silverstein. "Major trainers like Mike Mitchell, Bobby Frankel and Wesley Ward already have strings in Florida. Patrick Biancone and Wayne Lukas will leave California to go east as usual this spring. Smaller outfits are going to Lone Star and other tracks, so Southern California will have fewer horses than it already has.

"Anyone who owns a track has the prerogative to sell it, of course," Silverstein added. "It’s a business. In the long run a sale could benefit California racing, because Hollywood Park has been a dead issue as far as live racing goes. Anything would be better than that, whether it’s Los Alamitos, a race track on Indian land in Palm Springs or whatever. But in the interim there will be more horsemen leaving and none coming. That’s never good for the game."

”¡ Gary Stevens, on why he’s abandoning Santa Anita and joining fellow Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith to ride at the Keeneland meet that starts April 8: "I’m not knocking California racing but anybody who pays attention knows the quality of racing during weekdays has really gone downhill.

"You see four and five-horse fields, they can’t fill condition races," Stevens said. "You break a maiden with a good 3-year-old right now and they’re trying to force them into a stakes. It’s not my political issue, but I’m doing what’s best for me. This is the twilight of my career and I want to be riding. I’m healthy. Basically, I’m a weekend rider (at Santa Anita) and I want to ride all week long. I don’t want to ride four races a bleeping week."