By Hunter S. Thompson
Page 2 columnist

Editor's Note: Dr. Thompson has gone to Beirut for a few weeks, and we will not be able to reach him from time to time, except by personal courier. We still respect him and await his safe return. Vaya con Dios, doc. May the wind always be at your back.

Meanwhile, in the space below, the man utters some random warnings and predictions for those among you who don't mind going out on a limb.

For openers, the Fix is in at Churchill Downs, so adjust your bets accordingly. The Derby itself is always a little suspicious -- what would you do, for instance, if you thought you knew that Saturday's Kentucky Derby was going to be won by a colt named "Patriot"?

(A) Buy U.S. War Bonds immediately

(B) Smell a Rat and call the FBI

(C) Move to Beirut and grow a beard

(D) Bet heavily on "Patriot" (a k a Johannesburg)

War Emblem
While Johannesburg is a patriotic pick, what about War Emblem?

The answer is D, of course. The Fixed beast will always win, if word comes down from the top. It is a natural law, and in this case it translates to bet Johannesburg Now, while you can still get 50-1 odds. And if you can't find a reliable bookie, find a friend who believes you are honest and thinks he is pretty smart about horses -- then fleece the poor bastard just for the fun of it&. Hell, bet with two or three good friends who trust you. Why not? They would do the same thing to you if they knew who was going to win the Derby. Yes sir, this is horse-racing season, and a lot of people are going to get fleeced before it's over. That is what the Sport of Kings is all about.

And now that you mention it, how about this ugly flock of nags that we have in the Derby this year? What happened to the 2002 crop of thoroughbreds? And why is Sports Illustrated saying all those horrible things about Johannesburg? Are they in on the Fix?

My hunch is Yes. They Know something that we don't, and some of their top-secret information has leaked out. It says that a cabal of playboy speculators in the racing business have conspired to destroy the Irish colt's reputation (see S.I. April 29 '02) in public while privately betting him at 50-1, then pump him full of Mandrax on Derby Day and watch him win like the freak he is. The payoff will be $50,000,000,000 cash.

On other fronts -- Dallas will whack the Lakers and win the NBA title, The Red Sox will fail spectacularly to win the AL pennant again this year, San Jose will seize the Stanley Cup, and Sports Illustrated editor Terry McDonell will be present in the winner's Circle at Churchill Downs when Johannesburg, the much-maligned beast, gets his collar of roses. ... And guess who we will see on the cover of S.I. next week -- yes, it will be good old reliable Johannesburg, the amazing streaker from Ireland. Take my word for it, folks. I know what's happening.

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Indeed. I just spoke with McDonnell, and he brazenly confirmed that it's all true. He and 35 staffers will be in the clubhouse at the Derby, and they are all "betting heavily" on Jo-berg.

And that's about it for now, friends. What the hell? I am going to Beirut anyway, so why not kick out the jams. Truth is beauty, beauty truth -- that is all ye need to know.

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's books include Hell's Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, The Proud Highway, Better Than Sex and The Rum Diary. His new book, Fear and Loathing in America, has just been released. A regular contributor to various national and international publications, Thompson now lives in a fortified compound near Aspen, Colo. His column, "Hey, Rube," appears each Monday on Page 2.




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HEY, RUBE