Preakness, 1969

Continuing on during ‘confession’ week, I am relating another life experience.

Attending Johns Hopkins was an exhilarating and exciting adventure. Everyone in the class was a ‘Phi Beta Kappa.” All were top students of the best universities in the land. Many classmates came from medical families and they already had chosen specialty fields that they intended to pursue. Medical terminologies were conversed as common lingo. For me, the medical language was a totally brand new language, almost like learning English as a twelve year old when I immigrated! I was not intimidated, yet, studying 24/7 was just barely sufficient to keep up. No longer did I have the feeling of being able to master any subject and that I could overcome or conquer anything. We were assured that because Hopkins had such faith in her selection process, ALL of us will be physicians. If we cannot comprehend any topic, it would be the instructors’ inability to teach us. Consequently, no one in our class felt any need to ‘cut throat’ anyone else like some I experienced in college. Everyone was always a willing helper with everyone else in the class. Our philosophy was the worst student of our class is going to be the best amongst all physicians in the country.

Our year was divided into 5-10-week periods with one week break between Christmas and New Year, and the other week being the last week of June off to move on to post graduate careers. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had this experience because it prepared me to be the physician that I am, but I do not wish this type of academic schedule on anyone else.

Anyway, I was receiving $1800 dollars per semester as my scholarship. It happened that I was given this amount on Friday, May 16, 1969. I cashed the check and carried all $1800 to the 1969 Preakness Race at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, MD on May 17th.

The favorite was Majestic Prince and the rider was the world famous Bill Hartack. Majestic Prince was a 0.6-1 favorite to win. Though other smaller races sometimes may be ‘fixed,’ the Preakness was/is a major event and surely can be trusted. Admittedly being a little greedy, I thought I could enhance my spending funds by placing all $1800 on Majestic Prince not to win or place, but just to show up at third and I’d get the pay out. Accordingly, I waited to monitor the odds until the last minute, Majestic Prince’s position never changed. I walked up to the counter and place all $1800 on Majestic Prince to show.

And they were off! Majestic Prince was in the middle position and was over taken by two horses right away. As they made their way across the straight stretch across the field, Majestic Prince was now 8 lengths behind. Suddenly, I felt my heart pounding as never before. But Bill Hartack maneuvered the horse along the middle and was slowly moving up. The two lead horses were running nicely and smoothly with no signs of slowing down. I felt like I was having a heart attack! As they made the final turn, heading home, Majestic Prince found an opening and squirted through a few horses and with Hartack using his whip/crop Majestic Prince responded and raced ahead and came in first by 1/2 length.

What excitement, and what a rush! Because Majestic Prince was such an overwhelming favorite, Show paid only $2.20. Risking all that for $180 gain? Monday morning I paid my tuition bill, kept $180 for myself. I learned my life lesson, and I vowed that day never to bet on horses again. That was my last bet, though playing the stock exchange is a different story.