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The Bills. Live with it.

So, even as NBC and the fans cringe, the Bills are baaaaaaack. Meanwhile, let us not haggle here over swings of fortune in the NFC, except to say this: San Francisco 49ers 37, Buffalo Bills 20 in SB XXVIII.

You never know, of course. While you're not looking, Edsels might become a big hit in Tokyo. Fidel Castro could open a savings account at Chase Manhattan. And Buddy Ryan may win the heavyweight title from, say, Roseanne Barr. Just ask Dan Marino.

Handicapping thoroughbreds is already a tough game without trying it in the dark.

That's what 23 brave souls found themselves faced with for an hour or so last Wednesday. This just in: They rose to the challenge without a squawk.

"No signal," our acquaintance Bobby Y. said without removing his broad, worried face from the Daily Racing Form. Indeed. At downtown's Maxfield and Friends, an off-track gambling hell disguised as a bar, the wizards of modern satellite technology had failed. The signal from Gulfstream Park near Miami had been mysteriously lost, so there was no picture. You could see the odds display, you could even bet on the races. But you couldn't see the track or the horses or the riders or the weather or the palm trees.

The first race was seven minutes away, and you couldn't see anything but Joan Rivers and Jackie Mason, gabbing away on a few of Maxfield's 3,500 or so TV sets. Come to think of it, little Jackie could probably land a couple of mounts if he'd just lose forty or fifty pounds.

"Whaddya like in the Stevie Wonder Stakes?" Bobby Y. asked without smiling. Superstitious punters were already searching programs in vain for a horse called Twilight Zone or Blind Luck or Shoot in the Dark. Most of them played Royal Invite, the 4-5 favorite.

Apparently, Royal Invite ran third--which we learned only when the results were silently posted ten minutes later on the monitors. Bobby Y., a loser in the first race, was undaunted. He turned to the second.

"In the Helen Keller Handicap," he said, glancing up at a blank screen, "I like Hopespringsalways." Jackie Mason was now talking about ethnic jokes. Unless the people at Gulfstream were lying to us, Hopespringsalways finished second. We saw none of it.

In the third race (The George Shearing), Bobby Y. selected a horse named Departing Cloud and--no kidding--a full view of Gulfstream Park suddenly sprang to TV life a split second after his announcement.

"Let's hook him up with Image of Prospect," I suggested.
"Whaddya, nuts?" Bobby Y. explained.
Departing Cloud ran sixth in a field of eight, banishing symbolism. Image of Prospect may be running still. Despite the restoration of TV imagery live from Gulfstream, he never got into the picture.

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