You can chalk this one up to . . . the chalk!

Jun 5, 2001 7:10 AM

Take the rubber band off your bankroll and lay it in on Point Given to win this Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. The Bob Baffert-trained colt will win simply because he’s the fastest horse in the race.

Ignore all the nonsense you’ll read and hear about the race’s distance of a mile-and-a-half being a perfect set-up for horses who’ve been coming from behind at shorter distances. They’ll still be coming from behind vainly at the end of the Belmont Stakes.

Check past Belmonts. The race is usually won by horses that are close to the early pace or even by running in front all the way. In the final analysis, speed counts.

A field of about 10 is likely to go postward this Saturday with most of the entries being the usual suspects who ran in the Kentucky Derby or Preakness or both: Derby winner Monarchos, Derby runner-up Invisible Ink, Preakness runner-up AP Valentine, Dollar Bill, fourth in the Preakness; Thunder Blitz, fourth in the Derby, and Arkansas Derby winner Balto Star, who faded to 14th in the Derby after chasing a record hot pace. He’ll probably try to wire the field this Saturday.

A newcomer to the Triple Crown series will be Dr. Greenfield, a stakes winner in England. And Wayne Lukas, absent from the Derby and Preakness, may try with Buckle Down Ben, who would be the longest of longshots. It might be worth noting that Lukas won the Belmont last year with Commendable at odds of 18-1. Yet another newcomer could be Godolphin Racing’s E Dubai, who ran second to Hero’s Tribute in Belmont Park’s Peter Pan Stakes. The winner of that race, a stablemate of Monarchos, will stay in his barn this Saturday and be pointed for the Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park.

Don’t expect much of a price on Point Given. He’ll likely be odds-on. But nobody ever went broke taking a profit.

Can of Worms

The Supreme Court decision in the case of golfer Casey Martin opened up a huge can of worms. The knotty question arising is, are the rules of sports to be determined by the courts, rather than by the sponsoring organizations?

Martin won’t be the chief beneficiary of the decision because even with the use of a cart, he doesn’t play well enough to compete on the PCA Tour. The chief beneficiaries will, of course, be - who else? - the nation’s lawyers. You can anticipate a barrage of suits on behalf of persons claiming all sorts of disabilities related to sports. Shakespeare wrote, "Let’s kill all the lawyers."

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a classic example of a piece of well-intended legislation running amok. One person allergic to peanut butter can prevent thousands of others from eating it in public accommodations. This has already happened. Worse things may be yet to come.

Quarterback At Large

The paths of glory lead but to unemployment. That’s the story of Trent Dilfer, who quarterbacked the Baltimore Ravens to triumph in the Super Bowl and subsequently was cut loose by the club, replaced by Kansas City free agent Elvis Grbac. So Dilfer is now at large and nobody seems to want him. Even his Ravens backup, Tony Banks, landed with the Dallas Cowboys. The chances are, though, that sometime during the preseason training, a quarterback or two around the league will get injured and some team, needing a veteran to fill in at the position, will sign Dilfer. In the meantime, Dilfer can reflect that the immediate euphoria following the Super Bowl was truly his 15 minutes of fame.

Changing of the Guard

The change of control in the U.S. Senate from the Republican to the Democrats might turn out to be good news for Las Vegas. Sen. John McCain, the chief sponsor of the bill to outlaw betting on college sports - a bill applicable only to Nevada - has lost his committee chairmanship and its attendant clout. Presumably, the Democratic leadership has more important items on its agenda than catering to the NCAA.

Movie Review

The blockbuster movie of the year is "Pearl Harbor," which technically is a notable cinematic achievement. Although parts of the film are more Hollywood than history, the picture deserves a wide audience as a reminder to present generations of the horrors of war, and that thousands of Americans died at Pearl Harbor and elsewhere defending our country before victory was ultimately gained in World War II.