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The Beat

To her collection of seven Olympic medals, swimmer Amanda Beard can add the wings she earned last month when she took a ride with Kirby Chambliss, a stunt pilot who is captain of the U.S. Aerobatics team. Beard spent an afternoon strapped into a two-seat Zivko Edge 540 while Chambliss performed inverted dives and turns in and out of mountain formations outside of Tucson. Beard (left) and Chambliss, who both have endorsement deals with energy drink Red Bull, which organized the flight, had to withstand six G's. "When you train for swimming, you can't really see anything but the bottom of a pool, you can't hear anything but the sound of rushing water and you rarely get much of an adrenaline rush," said Beard, 23, who has plans to launch a line of signature beauty products next year. "Here it was just the opposite."

Two decades after he played Roy Hobbs in The Natural, we'll find out if Robert Redford is as comfortable in the front office as he was in the batter's box. Redford will play Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey in a still-untitled Jackie Robinson biopic. It was Rickey who signed Robinson in 1945 and made him the major league's first black player a year later. Said Redford, "It's a simple story and one that most don't know about: how the color barrier was broken and changed the face of baseball and ultimately the country." The project has the blessing of Robinson's widow, Rachel, as well as Rickey's grandson Branch Rickey III. Co-producer Howard Baldwin, who formerly owned the Pittsburgh Penguins, says he will ask Jamie Foxx--who won an Oscar for playing Ray Charles in Ray (which Baldwin produced)--to play Robinson.

The winner's circle at Churchill Downs has seen its share of flowing, chestnut manes--but usually on a victorious horse, not its owner. David Cassidy would love to change that. The former teen idol and avid horseman (he took a break from filming The Partridge Family to attend Secretariat's 1973 Preakness win) owns Kentucky Derby hopeful Mayan King. Cassidy spent $210,000 for the colt last year, and after Mayan King's first two races Cassidy turned down a seven-figure offer for him. A seventh-place finish last month at the Lane's End Stakes was Mayan King's first poor showing, but Cassidy, 54, hasn't given up hope that he can rebound and make a Run for the Roses. "If I could win the Kentucky Derby, there would be nothing on the face of the earth, other than the birth of my son 14 years ago, to compare with the thrill and high of it," said Cassidy.

Nothing says it's baseball season like the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd ... and Slash. The former Guns N' Roses guitarist will wail away on The Star-Spangled Banner at the Blue Jays' home opener this Friday. But the hirsute ax man, who now plays in Velvet Revolver, will do Jimi Hendrix one better. He'll also play O Canada. Not to be outdone, the Mariners had The Presidents of the United States of America play their home opener on Monday, and Huey Lewis and the News were to perform at SBC Park in San Francisco the next day.


Miss Wheelchair Wisconsin was stripped of her title when she was seen standing up.

They Said It


Former tennis star, on how he's spent his time since retiring 18 months ago: "I've been playing a ton of golf. And my wife is pregnant, so I've done a little bit of that."






Are you riding up, sir? During the U.S. Sumo Open last month former world champion Koichi Kato of Japan (right, but you knew that) stepped lively around the Los Angeles Convention Center, where, fortunately, the locals are accustomed to feeling aftershocks. L.A. turned out to be fat city for Kato. At the Open he was the straw that stirred the drink--a regular Wedgie Jackson--winning two gold medals.