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Clayton Picks the Ponies: The Miss Cleo of College Football's Guide to the 2017 Kentucky Derby

A guide to the Run for the Roses along with a brief history of Tom Seaver’s baseball career.

143rd Kentucky Derby - Previews Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

As I explained in my preview of last year’s Kentucky Derby, there are very few things I love more than college football.

They include God, family, country and the recorded work of one Hiram King Williams.

Just behind the Big Four and just behind college football come the ponies.

There aren't many things nicer than that first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in lovely Louisville, Kentucky.

Being a fan of the ponies and a clairvoyant prognosticator, I regard it as my duty to tell you all who will win, place, and show on Saturday.

WIN: Irish War Cry

Trained by H. Graham Motion and jockeyed by Rajiv Maragh, this New Jersey-born chestnut colt loves salt licks, Winstons and is known for his cryptic orations of Yes lyrics while standing in line at the Garfield, New Jersey Wawa. He creeps out the competition with his monotone incantations of “Cause it's time is time in time with your time and its news is captured...for the queen to use” while waiting to buy a pack of smokes.

PLACE: McCracken

This three-year-old colt is known throughout the Federal League as “Doctor Hook” for his controversial stick work. Old Tim McCracken, as this pony was christened some 36 months ago, ran afoul of the Charlestown Chiefs, but not even the Hanson Brothers can stop him from finishing in the top three at Churchill Downs.

SHOW: Battle of Midway

This horse is a big baseball fan. He and his trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer, were talking baseball just the other day when I was walking past their stable. Here’s what I remember of their conversation.

Battle of Midway: The single most victories Tom Seaver amassed in any one season was 25 in 1969.

Jerry Hollendorfer: Tom recorded 311 victories during his Major League career.

Battle of Midway: In September ’75, Tom put together a seven-game winning streak, including a near no-hitter against the Cubs. Just like in 1969, when the Cubs broke up a late season no-hitter that Tom had going.

Jerry Hollendorfer: That no-hitter in 1975 was broken up by Joe Wallis. That no-hitter in 1969 was broken up by that journeyman outfielder Jimmy Qualls.

Battle of Midway: Wallis is an East St. Louis guy, just like Bryan Cox.

Jerry Hollendorfer: Nicknamed Tarzan because he liked cliff diving.

Battle of Midway: Forget about Tarzan. I am more of a Tom Terrific man. My favorite Seaver season was when he won 22 games in 1975.

Jerry Hollendorfer: I’m a 1970 man m’self. He battled his way to 18 wins against 12 losses. He had 283 strikeouts that year. Not bad.

Battle of Midway: Tom has been a friend of Nolan Ryan’s since they pitched in New York in the late 60s.

Jerry Hollendorfer: They’ve won more than 600 games if you combine the totals.

Battle of Midway: Seaver would’ve won even more games if he hadn’t gotten hurt in the 1980 season when he was with the Reds. Missed most of the second half. It was almost as shocking as the Day the Music Died: June 15, 1977. The day that Tom Seaver was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Pat Zachary, Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson and Don Norman.

Jerry Hollendorfer: 1980 was frustrating for Tom, but nowhere near as frustrating as 1983. The Mets scored three or fewer runs in 13 of his 14 losses that year.

Battle of Midway: He was piddling with that weak team. Next year in Chicago he showed them what for. He won 15 games.

Jerry Hollendorfer: Wouldn’t have been piddling if he stuck with them. Won the World Series three years later.

Battle of Midway: Not bad for a USC Trojan.

Jerry Hollendorfer: First one ever in the Hall of Fame.

Battle of Midway: First Cy Young winner who didn’t win 20 games, too. 1973 baby.

Jerry Hollendorfer: I loved when he got traded to the Red Sox in 1986. Not that far from his home in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Battle of Midway: That’s a lot closer to New York than Boston. That’s not himzizzes’ home neither. Tom Seaver is the embodiment of beautiful Fresno, California, where he was a standout high school baseball and basketball player. Spent his first two years of college at Fresno City College, where he earned all-conference honors.

Jerry Hollendorfer: I am headed to Erbert and Gerbert’s. Are you coming with me or are you not?

Battle of Midway: Hop on me. We’ll get there quickerer.

This is a work of parody and not intended to be taken seriously. For more of the same, follow me on Twitter: @ClaytonTrutor