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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The future and the past


The NFL draft is about the future. We understand that and honor it, linking enough newspaper stories today to wipe out a small forest. But we also like it when a newspaper honors the past. And the Review does that today with a look back at Playfair, once the thriving home of horse racing in the Inland Northwest. Read on.


• This year's NFL draft started slowly for the Hawks, with the team watching the first round from the sidelines. The second and third rounds didn't go according to most analysts' expectations, and that was the storyline for Friday. But Saturday's headlines were to be expected. The Seahawks took a boatload of players, they found a nugget or two that were overlooked by everyone else and the day was a success. Except no one knows for sure. And won't for a few years. Still, the draft is about hope. About optimism. About the future. And who am I to rain on that parade? So we'll join the chorus and praise Ryan Seymour, Tharold Simon and Jesse Williams, everyone of them a potential Pro Bowl player. Or not. OK, so we are being a bit smarmy here. We have to admit, the Hawks' track record lately with late-round picks has been good to excellent, so we will temper or sarcasm with this: At least one, and possibly more, of the picks taken Saturday will become a key contributor for the Hawks. We don't know which, but we're sure it will happen.

• Jim Price knows Playfair (and baseball statistics, by the way). The former S-R copy editor and Playfair publicist has a long history of the former Spokane horse racing track in today's paper. It's worth spending time with. You have to remember, less than 100 years ago horse racing was one of the Big Three American sports, along with boxing and baseball. But the sport has fallen in the public eye for a variety of reasons too numerous to go into here. But I miss it. Growing up in Sierra Madre, which is just a furlong or two from Santa Anita race track, I got to know trainers (Charlie Whittingham lived nearby) and jockeys (Pat Valenzuela was a St. Rita's Elementary attendee like me and his brother was a classmate) and paramutual clerks (my dad supplemented his income for a while working off-and-on at the track). In high school I would sometimes stop by on the way home, catching the ninth race for free – by then no one was manning the gates – and bet a longshot or two – I may have been just 17 but I looked a lot older; besides my $2 was as good as anyone else's. Watching the horses run from down near the rail was exhilarating. Early on in my Spokane life, the wife and I decided to spend a night at Playfair with our young son, who had been fascinated by the horses on television. We headed for the area by the rail, only to have our son decide horses were a lot more friendly looking on TV than in person, especially when they thundered by kicking up dirt. His wails were almost as loud as the women's near us whose pick had been nosed out at the end. So we packed up our things and headed home, never to return. And now the track is gone, with nothing left but a large area of dirt down by the railroad tracks. But the memories remain and Jim can help you relive them today. We also can pass along a photo gallery from the track's past.


• Washington State: The draft went through nearly seven full rounds before a Cougar was picked though, because it was wide receiver Marquess Wilson, there is a certain segment of the alumni who aren't claiming him. Christian Caple has a story on Wilson's selection and more in a blog post. He also has a blog post on Jeff Tuel's decision to sign with Buffalo as a free agent. And, of course, there is his morning post. ... Bud Withers looks at the Pac-12's picks, including Wilson. ... The Huskies opened their new track facility with a dual meet with the Cougars. The UW men and the WSU women won.

• Gonzaga: WCC player of the year Taelor Karr earned a national honor.

• EWU: The offense took some huge strides in the Eagles annual spring game. Jim Allen has the story.

• Idaho: The Vandals had a few players sign free agent contracts with NFL clubs. Josh Wright details them in this blog post.

• Shock: The goal was perfection. The goal is gone. The Shock were shooting for an undefeated season but a bad first half – at home – doomed that last night against Tampa Bay. Jim Meehan was in attendance and has this story of the Shock's 70-62 loss, their first of the season. He also has a couple of blog posts with more information.

• Preps: John Blanchette uses this Sunday's column to look back at the remarkable life and career of Shadle Park's Linda Sheridan. ... Gonzaga Prep was the big winner at the Inland Empire tennis tournament.

• Mariners: No matter how much the M's offense is struggling, the team always has a chance when Felix Hernandez is on the mound – and a decent crowd too. Hernandez kept the Angels at bay, Jesus Montero smacked a two-run home run and Kendrys Morales came through with a late, pinch-hit, run-scoring single as the M's won, 3-2. ... Speaking of Montero, he's one of a trio of young players Larry Stone wonders ever will reach their potential. ... Stone also has his weekly power rankings. ... Cancer can even reach into a major league clubhouse, the bastard. Sorry for the language, but it ticks me off.

• Seahawks: No matter what happens, this draft will be remembered due to its numbers. Thanks to a trade, the Hawks had a bunch of picks and they used them all, from the fourth round to the seventh, which was a draft all by itself. The key guy from the final day? That would be Williams, a big old Alabama defensive lineman that fell due to a bad knee.


• That's it for this Sunday. Hope the rest of your weekend goes well. Until later ...

Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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