None of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's editors has served as sparring partner for Floyd Patterson yet or even pitched batting practice before a World Series game. This, by general agreement, is just as well. But our Jeremiah Tax, who in this issue describes the wonders of the new Roosevelt Raceway, has lived dangerously lately, to the cheers of 39,000 people who two weeks ago in Delaware, Ohio watched the great pacer Torpid win the Little Brown Jug (SI, Sept. 30). Just before the race, Delvin Miller, the trainer who developed Adios, seized Tax and said: "I want you to warm up one of my horses."
"Are you crazy?" cried Tax, edging away. "This race is worth $70,000. I could ruin that horse!"
"Come on," said Miller, firmly.
A struggling Tax was backed into a vacant stall, hustled into silks and britches. "I could kill myself," he protested. Nobody seemed to care. A cap went on his head, a whip in his hand and there was Tax in a sulky behind a slavering beast named Meadow Rhythm.
"So I sat, my feet in the stirrups, spread-eagled behind that monster and waited for all hell to break loose. And nothing happened. The horse just stood there. Then I clucked to him, and off we went just like that—me and all the other Jug drivers. As we jogged past the stands, the announcer called off each entry. Now he bellowed out, 'Meadow Rhythm, driven by Jeremiah Tax, harness racing editor of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. Glad to have you with us, Jeremiah. Let's give him a big welcome, folks!' I was sopping wet.
"Well, we jogged our horses the wrong way of the track—me and the other Jug men—and then we turned around for a speedy 2:50 mile the right way. Meadow Rhythm behaved beautifully, held his gait and thoughtfully kept his tail out of my face. But when I turned him over to the groom after the warmup that gentleman seemed relieved—for some silly reason."
It would be hard to say just how this experience affected Meadow Rhythm. He placed fourth (handled by his regular driver) in his division of the Little Brown Jug and earned $2,200. The effect on Tax, however, was hard to miss. "Hey, driver," he was heard to bark after the race. "If I'd had a little more time to work on that horse I'd have made a winner of him."
TAX AND TAXI AT THE LITTLE BROWN JUG