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SI View The Week in TV Sports

Saturday 5/2
Kentucky Derby

If this 1 1/4-mile jockey jihad is the most exciting two minutes
in sports, what is the least? A Karl Malone free throw? Ron
Powlus rolling out to pass? (Editor: This column?) The 124th Run
for the Roses has more than a few intriguing entries vying to
win the first leg of the Triple Crown: One is Favorite Trick
(above, far left), who last year became only the second
2-year-old (Secretariat was the first, in 1973) to be named
Horse of the Year--not to be confused with Event of the Year,
who had to drop out of the race last week with a right-knee
fracture. Then there is Indian Charlie, whose trainer, Bob
Baffert, stood in the winner's circle at Churchill Downs last
May with Silver Charm. Indian Charlie is unbeaten and coming off
an impressive win at last month's Santa Anita Derby. Finally,
there is Halory Hunter, whose principal owner, Rick Pitino, had
hoped another sporting engagement would have rendered him too
busy to attend this afternoon.
ABC, 4:30 PM

Sunday 5/3
Arizona Rattlers at Iowa Barnstormers

Hunkie Cooper is/was: (a) the laconic star of High Noon, (b)
thick enough to eat with a fork but use a spoon to get every
drop or (c) the hero of last August's Arenabowl XI. (Answer: c.)
Today's inaugural Arena Football Hall of Fame game--yes, such a
place exists, and it occupies two rooms on the first floor of
the Flynn Building in Des Moines--is a rematch of last summer's
title game, in which Arizona's Cooper, a wideout-linebacker,
scored three touchdowns in the Rattlers' 55-33 victory. Today's
season opener from Veterans Memorial Auditorium (the Barn) will
be enhanced by the induction into the Hall of league founder
James Foster, who conjured up the sport in 1981 while watching
an indoor soccer game. Tourist tip: The envelope on which Foster
scribbled his plans now resides in the Hall.
ESPN2, 3:30 PM

NASCAR California 500

In only its second year California Speedway, the two-mile oval
in Fontana (40 miles east of Los Angeles), has become a favorite
of drivers on the Winston Cup circuit. "It's as good a track as
you could ask for," said Terry Labonte (opposite, below) after
taking his first practice laps a year ago, while Jeff Gordon
called it an "awesome facility that's a stepping-stone to the
next generation." Gordon and Labonte finished one-two,
respectively, in last June's inaugural left-turn lollapalooza.
The reigning series champ and winner of two races this season,
Gordon brings the best combo of hair and speed to SoCal since
Ponch hung up his motorcycle britches.
ESPN, 3:30 PM

Thursday 5/7
Skate TV Championships

Olympic gold medalists Oksana Baiul, Tara Lipinski (making her
pro debut) and Katarina Witt headline an event taped in
Charleston, S.C., in which each skater is required to perform a
program to a rock-and-roll tune. What you won't see if you
forsake the penultimate episode of Seinfeld for this show: Baiul
skating to Chumbawamba's Tubthumping. The lyrics ("He drinks a
whiskey drink/He drinks a vodka drink/He drinks a lager drink/He
drinks a cider drink") might prompt viewers to recall Baiul's
DUI hearing last year. She'll perform instead to Safe from Harm
by Massive Attack and Sarah McLachlan's Possession. Lipinski
will skate to (surprise!) Oh, Tara by the Knack.

Friday 5/8
Padres at Braves

Hot teams with hot bats at the hot corner meet in Hotlanta. With
his mighty stick, Braves third basemen Chipper Jones is
providing more thrills at Turner Field than the owner's wife did
in Barbarella. At week's end he was third in the National League
in home runs (nine) and RBIs (27) and fifth in batting average
(.387), helping Atlanta maintain its perch atop the East. Its
counterpart in the West, San Diego, fittingly has been playing
like a team on a mission. The Padres' 17-6 start was the best in
baseball and their best ever. Third baseman Ken Caminiti (left)
has reverted to his 1996 MVP form, in one stretch hitting a home
run in four consecutive games. Don't channel-surf too soon: The
Pad squad had won six games in its final at bat.
TBS, 7:35 PM


COLOR PHOTO: BILL FRAKES [Favorite Trick and other horses in race]

COLOR PHOTO: GEORGE TIEDEMANN [Terry Labonte's race car]

COLOR PHOTO: LENNY IGNELZI/AP [Ken Caminiti throwing baseball]


The winners in categories not included at the recent Sports Emmy
awards: Best Crawl Scores, to CNN Headline News, which pioneered
the highlighting of winners in yellow; Most Unfortunate Name
Association, to George Michael (Sports Machine), who risks being
confused with the singer recently arrested for lewd conduct; and
the Brett Haber Disappearing Act Award, to former NBC
play-by-foreplay man Marv Albert. If Albert, as rumored, returns
on local sports shows in New York, he'll be the early favorite
for the Brent Musburger Career Resurrection Award in 1999.