Read it and don't weep

Here are the lessons from the Belmont Stakes.

1. Having Bob Costas as a front man for the Triple Crown races does a lot of good for the sport.

2. Extremes are horrible plays in this race. Freedom Child and Golden Soul barely got around the track.

3. Sinatra's song about New York is the best of the three leading into the Triple Crown races.

4. Some of my selections have begun to attract lousy rides.

5. Oxbow is tougher than a boot.

Quite a few people probably failed to collect money on this race. Here are some ways to get over a loss.

Somebody always did worse. It never hurts to reflect a few moments on some picks, like Charles Barkley's NBA selections. He liked Memphis and Indiana to reach the finals.

I like to find a good book. This isn't as easy as it sounds because most of the new stuff is terrible. Here are two writers guaranteed to take your mind off anything bothersome: Evan Hunter and Donald E. Westlake.

Both, sadly, are dead.

All their works live brightly on the page.

Evan Hunter also wrote as Ed McBain and created the 87th Precinct mystery, or police procedural, series. Every decent cop show on TV has a debt to the 87th novels. The 87th series was so good that Hunter has the reputation of being primarily a mystery writer. But he is simply one of the all-time great authors. His first novel was "Blackboard Jungle," the original tough high school story. "Blackboard Jungle" was the first major motion picture to use old fashioned rock-and-roll on the sound track. Billy Haley's "Rock Around the Clock" blares across the tough school yard as new teacher Glenn Ford walks toward a most dangerous setting. Hunter also wrote the screenplay for "The Birds." His dialog is perfect, it's like eavesdropping. A good introduction to his greatness is "Criminal Conversations." Try to put it down.

Westlake also wrote under a number of different names but is best known for his Dortmunder series about a guy and his pals out to make some easy money, even if it does belong to somebody else. It is impossible to read a Westlake novel without smiling early and often, and laughing out loud at least three times. Nobody is funnier, it's not even close.

I've already almost forgotten what I lost.