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Monday, June 26, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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SIDELINE CHATTER

Fetch Monster brings back a pink slip

If Mike Ditka detected any sniffing behind him in the New Orleans Saints' unemployment line, that was just Fetch Monster the Australian Shepherd.

The canine that delighted Louisiana Superdome fans by retrieving the kicking tee after kickoffs and field goals at Saints games discovered the NFL is a dog-eat-dog business when she got her walking papers Thursday. Mike Moriarty, a Houston lawyer who along with his wife, Melna, owns the dog, feels like he's been dipped in the Big Fleasy.

"What they're doing is getting rid of the only winner they have so far in PR," Moriarty said, noting the Saints' 15-33 record in The Ditka Era. "I don't think in three years the dog lost a game."

Nonetheless, the Saints' housecleaning that already claimed Ditka and his coaching staff, President-GM Bill Kuharich and trainer Dean Kleinschmidt has now become a doghouse cleaning.

"This is nothing against Mike, Melna and the dog," said Barra Birrcher, entertainment director for the Saints. "They were wonderful to work with, very popular for us. But we're going to try to go in a different direction."

With what, weiner dogs? Or a cheaper direction, maybe? The Saints paid for the dog and her owners to fly from Houston for home games, sometimes $1,000 a trip.

"The trainer told me she's got another three good years left," said Moriarty, noting the dog will turn 7 in August. "If Saints fans don't think it's that important, so be it, we can accept that. But I don't think that's what they'll find."

Not unless the Saints can talk Ditka into running out and fetching kicking tees.

Pick seven

The horses must have read the script for Thursday's seventh race at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif. The seven-horse field finished in the exact order of the post-position numbers assigned them in a 6 1/2-furlong race for $62,500 claimers.

"I cannot recall seven horses running one through seven," said Mike Mooney, the racetrack's director of communications. "I'm sure it's happened from time to time somewhere in North America, but we don't have any records of it at Hollywood Park."

According to the track's Web site, the odds of seven horses finishing in exact post-position order are 5,039-1.

Punching his Lotto ticket

Bill Gates was momentarily supplanted as the planet's best-paid human - at least on an hourly basis - Saturday night.

Lou Savarese put the prize in prizefighting when he pocketed $800,000 for lasting all of 38 seconds against Mike Tyson.

That computes to $75.8 million an hour.

She hasn't lost her grit

Have you never been mellow? Not Martina Navratilova, not even as her tennis skills are losing the inevitable battle with age. "I had so much fun out there I wanted to play one more set at least, but that's how it goes," she said after losing in a comeback doubles match in the first round in Eastbourne, England.

"Losing stinks. It always has and it still does."

- Dwight Perry, The Seattle Time.

Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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