Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

December 2010

What’s with all the horse movies? And what!? We’ll not see a tribute to Silky Sullivan anytime soon?

My economics 101 professor drank a little, I think, so he often included references to Silky Sullivan in his lectures. You have to imagine: Here are all these earnest young men (no coeds, yet, in the College of Business Administration) trying to get their heads around economic utilities and the prof starts going off about John Maynard Keynes and Pigou and Silky Sullivan.

“Pigou,” my buddy say. “What the hell is a pigou? Silky Sullivan,” he says, “is going to end up being a post pony at Suffolk Downs, for gawd’s sake.”

Silky Sullivan was the greatest comeback horse of its day. Eddie Arcaro rode Silky to a win in the 1958 Santa Anita Derby coming from 27 lengths off the pace to win by three lengths at the finish. As a result, Silky became a 2 to 1 favorite to win the Kentucky Derby.

Think about it! 

Trailing by 27 lengths, this wonder horse catches the thundering herd down the stretch and passes the leaders. Don’t believe me? Check it out. Google it. Go to YouTube. I mean this horse from more than 50 years ago did stuff that still inspires awe.

But how to explain my freshman economics professor’s constant references to Silky Sullivan in his lectures.

I think I finally figured it out.

My professor was smart. He went right from high school to a good college and got great grades. Then he went to grad school and picked up his master’s. From there, he went to another brainy place and notched a Ph. D. Then he got a  job at a prestigious university but had to teach a 101 course to freshmen.

So ... if today, colleges require professors to have “terminal” degrees in their specialty and the new-hires end up trying not to flunk out their ill-prepared students, is it any wonder they wouldn’t utilize allegories like Silky Sullivan?

By the way, the reason you’re not likely to see a movie about Silky Sullivan, even though CBS had a separate camera on him at the Kentucky Derby knowing he would be out of the shot of the pack at the front, and he was mentioned five times for every single mention of the leaders, Silky quit. Finished back in the pack well off the lead.

We figured that “pigou” was sausage and our professor was telling us that John Maynard Keynes liked to eat sausage with his eggs. Eventually we learned that Pigou was an English economist and a supporter and close friend to Keynes. All the stuff about Silky Sullivan was probably between the professor and his bookie. 

If you were an economist, wouldn’t you have a bookie as well as a broker? Even today?

By the way, peace.