and His Memorable Goof
by Art Grace - The Miami News
Thursday April 16, 1987
Editor's note - This article was a complete surprise
to me. I had arrived at the track the night before and was NEVER interviewed.
BE SURE TO READ THE NEXT DAY'S ARTICLE! It tells the "rest of the story."
I have listened to
a lot of track announcers (Hialeah's Tom Durkin, a notable exception) mangle
a lot of pronunciations, but my favorite is the most recent, by Gulfstream's
As far as I know, there is only one way to pronounce "benign." It
has to rhyme with "fine." Unless it is Morton's interpretation of
the 4-year old filly Benign Begum.
When she ran at Gulfstream the first time on March 20, I thought I must have
been fantasizing when I heard Morton refer to her, throughout the seven-furlong
race as, so help me, "Bennigan Begum." [He also mispronounced "Begum,"
but that's understandable.]
Nah, it couldn't be. I decided to wait until Benign Begum ran back in order
to make sure I had not been hallucinating. She finally showed up again in
the first race last Sunday. And sure enough, Morton called her "Bennigan
Begum" with every rundown as the field plodded its way through the mile
and a sixteenth.
I think I'll go out for dinner tonight... for a hamburger and fries at that
popular restaurant on 163rd street. You know the one I'm referring to: Benign's.
Apparently, I am
not the only race track person to have been smitten by Patty Smyth's new solo
album, and especially the title song, "Never Enough."
Janet Del Castillo,
a very nice lady who owns and trains First Prediction, has decided that "never
enough" is the way to handle her horse. A more appropriate theme would
be "enough is enough."
First Prediction, a 5-year old mare, has been one of my favorites for a long
time. She is, or rather was, a stone closer who made a big run virtually every
I liked her a lot when Bennie Green was riding her at Calder last year and
positively loved her when Julio Pezua got the mount beginning Jan. 1 this
year. It was a perfect marriage, a closer with a great finishing rider.
She just missed in the New Year's Handicap at Calder at 7-1, and won at 8-1
at Hialeah nine days later. She then finished second in the Bal Harbor and
third, beaten a neck and a nose to Anka Germania and Chaldea, in the Columbiana.
Next time out she closed big again to finish second in the Key Largo.
At that point she had to be considered an iron horse, the Margaret Thatcher
of Florida racing. She already had run five times in six weeks in 1987 after
a very rigorous campaign in 1986.
She was back one week later at Tampa Bay and finally the regimen caught up
with her. She finished fifth, beaten 14 1/2 lengths.
Undiscouraged, Del Castillo vanned her back to Hialeah for the Black Helen
two weeks later. First Prediction never got out of a gallop, finishing 11th.
I got the message loud and clear two weeks later at Gulfstream when First
Prediction turned back to seven furlongs and finished a weak fifth. When she
failed to fire going short I knew the romance was over between us.
When she showed up still again, just eight days later in the Suwanee River
Handicap, I wasn't about to bet on her. She finished fifth.
Surely Del Castillo would give her a rest now? Yeah, three whole days. Four
days later First Prediction was in the Rampart Handicap, in body but not in
spirit. She was last all the way, finishing 16 lengths behind the next to
First Prediction is nominated for Saturday's mile-and-a-half Orchid Handicap
and next Wednesday's seven-furlong Old Hat Handicap. She will warm up for
those stakes today in the ninth race, an allowance feature at a mile and a
sixteenth on the grass. Unless 20 races in 29 weeks prove a mite debilitating,
I'm sure she will be able to make the Orchid and Old Hat.
I went through the same depressing experience with another personal favorite,
Command Attention, owned and trained by Nathan Kelly. Command Attention hasn't
been around much lately but his last start, at Gulfstream March 26, was the
140th of his career.
The 9-year old gelding was running in stakes races two years ago. I will never
forget the afternoon in October 1985, when he won an allowance race on grass
at Calder by a nose and paid $59.80.
How sad it was to see him running for a $5,000 claiming price at Tampa last
December, finishing seventh, 15 lengths behind Spindle City.
He raced only 16 times last year because he had to be laid up from July to
December. But if he could make it to the paddock he didn't miss any dances
in the previous four years. He ran only nine times as a two-year old and only
13 times at 3. But from 1982 through 1985, he maintained a twice-a-month schedule
without buckling. If he was a cat I'd take him home and let him enjoy the
First Prediction already has matched Command Attention's busiest year - 27
starts in 1983. She equalled that total last year and is well on her way to
surpassing it this year.
More's the pity. Horses are not machines, but sometimes they are treated as
though they were.
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