Photograph by Bill Frakes/Sports Illustrated
Triple Bypass As Kentucky Derby champion Orb labored to a fourth-place finish in the Preakness last Saturday, it was impossible not to feel the emotion rush out of Pimlico Race Course. Horse racing has been waiting 35 years for a Triple Crown winner, and it will now have to wait at least one more. There was only a muted cheer from the grandstand as Oxbow (6) and jockey Gary Stevens cruised under the wire at odds of 15--1. Casual fans—and that's what most of the 117,203 who came out to Old Hilltop on an overcast and unusually chilly day were—tune in to racing only a few times a year. As much as anything, they want to see history. But history is actually what they saw. With Oxbow's front-running ride, 77-year-old trainer D. Wayne Lukas won a record 14th Triple Crown race. The victory also gave a boost to owner Calumet Farm, once the dominant force in the sport, which hadn't produced a Triple Crown winner since Forward Pass at the 1968 Derby. With a masterly if minimalist ride from the 50-year-old Stevens, Oxbow dominated. The big bay colt sprinted straight to the lead and was in front by two lengths at the half-mile mark, despite a casual pace of 48.60 seconds. "I couldn't believe that no one challenged me going into the far turn," said Stevens, "but when no one did, I said, I think everybody's in trouble right now."
Photograph by Tony O'Brien/Allsport/Getty Images
David, The Goliath David Beckham, who retired last Thursday at 38 following his final game with Paris Saint-Germain (page 16), was never quite the world's best soccer player. In fact, so frequent were the charges that he was overrated that he eventually became underrated. Beckham was roughly in the top five in 1998--99 (left), when he led Manchester United to the famous Treble, and he was easily one of the best free-kick specialists of all time, later earning his place on the field at Real Madrid with fellow Galàcticos Zinédine Zidane, Ronaldo and Luís Figo (three former world players of the year). It's much easier, however, to make the case that he was the world's most famous athlete, not least because in places like the U.S. he was known as much (or more) as an A-list celebrity as he was as a soccer player. Lionel Messi, Tiger Woods, LeBron James, Usain Bolt—none have the same fame-multiplier effect. Even after Beckham signed a five-year, $250 million deal with Los Angeles in 2007 and won two MLS Cups, bringing major attention to the league, most of the Americans who recognized him couldn't tell you how the Galaxy was doing. But that's O.K.—they could still tell you all about his latest tattoo or ad or hairstyle.
Photograph by RacingOne/ISC Images & Archives/Getty Images
George Tiedemann for Sports Illustrated (inset)
Dick Trickle 1941--2013 Richard Leroy Trickle had a name that inspired a fair amount of tittering. So for much of his career in NASCAR's top flight he was name-checked on SportsCenter, the gag seemingly made funnier by the fact that Trickle rarely finished near the front of the field. "I guess they do a pretty good job of promoting this sport, so it's O.K. with me," Trickle said in 1995. Indeed, if anyone could speak to the growth of stock car racing, it was Trickle, a lifer who was so much more than a middle-of-the-pack punch line. While he never won a race in his 24 years of driving at NASCAR's top level, the Wisconsin native did, by his count, take the checkered flag around 1,200 times, mostly at short tracks throughout the Midwest. Along the way he served as a mentor to the likes of Rusty Wallace, Alan Kulwicki and Matt Kenseth, all of whom became NASCAR champs. Of late, Trickle had been suffering severe chronic pain under his left breast, which his brother speculated was the reason Trickle took his own life on May 16. Said Kenseth, "Dick was, is, a legend for a lot of things—the way he raced, for how he conducted himself after the race. He's just a racer's racer."