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Eppler Wins Preakness ON FOOT!

The Associated Press
June 9, 2006
Related Story: (1/29/2007) Eppler Celebrates Death of Barbaro, Draws Suspicion
BALTIMORE, MD - (AP) In perhaps the most bizarre incident in the history of horseracing, Oconomowoc Five Os outfielder Mike Eppler won Saturday's Preakness Stakes, finishing the final mile of the 1 and 3/16 mile race on foot. As the race world lay stunned, Eppler summed up his achievement in a predictably classless manner, saying, "I'm stronger than any horse, I'm faster than any horse, and if any of you female reporters would like to join me in my hotel room, I'll show you another way I'm superior to any horse." On his way out, Eppler quickly ran back to the mic to add "Only hot chicks though, I don't want to waste grade A meat on grade F broads."

The story of how this feat came to be is nearly as amazing as the feat itself. In many ways, this wild tale began on March 28, at an Eppler press conference at Caesar's Palace, called by Eppler's agent Drew Rosenhaus.

The press conference was meant to serve as the launch of Eppler's new sportswear line, "Big Stick Gear". While introducing several of the garments, Eppler off-handedly mentioned that a sportswear line was a natural endeavor for him, since he was "stronger and faster than any man or beast". When a reporter kiddingly suggested Eppler back his boast by entering the Preakness Stakes, Eppler appeared to be lost in thought for a moment, then slowly walked away from the podium, mumbling, "hold my calls" to one of his personal assistants.

A week later, Eppler announced that he would indeed enter the Preakness. Most laughed. But the ones who weren't laughing were the jockeys and trainers of the finest thoroughbreds in the country. Jockey Jose Santos spoke for all jockeys in saying, "This is no joke. I've seen video of this guy from when he played for the Yankees, 49ers, and USC. I also heard he knocked out an Indian elephant with one punch. He's legit. I'm not sure I even want my horse on the same track as this guy." Shortly before answering questions from reporters, Santos was hit in the side of the face with a whiskey bottle.

Santos and the rest of the field appeared to be bailed out, however, when Preakness officials ruled Eppler ineligible. Louis J. Raffetto Jr., president and chief operating officer of the Maryland Jockey Club, left no doubt about the Club's rules, stating, "In the 130 year history of the Preakness, it has always been one thing above all else: a horse race. In fact, the first rule in the rule book states 'All entries must consist of a jockey, riding a three-year-old thoroughbred horse'".

When informed of the rule, Eppler called what was expected to be a profanity laced press conference. Reporters were quite shocked when Eppler stated he would abide by the Maryland Jockey Club rules. The racing world was then turned upside-down when rumours that Eppler would ride Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro proved to be true. Eppler bought his way onto the horse, with a reported payment of $86 million. Eppler was later quoted as saying, "86 million? Who gives a [expletive]? I spend more than that every month on malt liquor and paternity suits." Eppler's unkept appearance, cowboy hat, and ever-present cigarette also raised the ire of racing traditionalists.

Shortly into the race Eppler was seen swinging something metallic towards Barbaro's leg. The horse pulled up lame, and in one fluid motion, Eppler leapt from the champion's back, and pulled off his silks, revealing a running outfit. Amazingly, the cigarette remained. Within a quarter mile, Eppler moved from the back of the field, to an insurmountable 16 length lead. He won the race with a record time of 1 minute, 13 seconds, shattering the existing record by nearly 40 seconds.

After a brief post-race huddle, race officials confirmed that the results would stand, as the rules only stated that each jockey must BEGIN the race on a horse, mentioning nothing about how the race was completed. After being presented with the rose victor's wreath and trophy cup, Eppler's only comment was, "This trophy will make a great beer stein. Now where did that broad go that handed it to me? She's about to win the triple crown of pleasure." Eppler's victory led to an immediate change in rules, barring any human racing at any point in the race, and also requiring participants in the trophy presentation to wear a shirt. It was the second time Eppler had prompted a rule requiring the wearing of shirts; the first time involved the U.S. Congress.

Two days after the race, Eppler angered racing fans and animal lovers everywhere, saying he had no remorse for crippling and ending the career of Barbaro, and adding "Now it's time to return to my day job, crippling the self-esteem of Land 'O Lakes pitchers."

In happier news, after an extensive operation, Barbaro is expected to survive. Barbaro owners Gretchen and Roy Jackson hope the horse can grow healthy enough to one day go to stud. The thoroughbred's future breeding potential has been estimated at $30 million. After Eppler's display at the Preakness, he estimated his own breeding potential at "$500 billion, and that's assuming I offer two-for-one coupons."

The Belmont Stakes, the final race in the Triple Crown, will be held June 10 at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. Officials have already filed a restraining order keeping Eppler a minimum of two miles from Belmont Park.

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