07/15/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT
True prodigies in classical ballet are rare, but Boston's Jennifer Gelfand, 13, surely qualifies. "She is one of the greatest dance talents ever to come along," says her coach David Howard, who taught prima ballerina Gelsey Kirkland. "Her combination of physical power and intuitive artistry is like POW!" adds Howard, noting that when Jennifer jumps and spins in his class, the professionals who work out there—like Mikhail Baryshnikov and Natalia Makarova—"stop and gasp."
Perfectly proportioned at 4'10" and 77 pounds, Jennifer practices two to four hours daily, studies afternoons at the Boston School of Ballet and spends summers training at the David Howard School of Ballet in New York. Daughter of a former championship gymnast and diver and an associate professor of medicine at Tufts-New England Medical Center, Jennifer, the eldest of three girls, was enrolled in dance school at age 3 to meet some playmates.
Now a ninth grader with a fondness for wild pink eye shadow and Eddie Murphy, Jennifer admits she did get bored briefly with dancing about six years ago, when practice time began to interfere with soccer, gymnastics and piano. But when her mother urged her to try out for the Boston Ballet's Christmas Nutcracker, she changed her mind. "Once I saw the Sugar Plum Fairy," remembers Jen, "I knew I wanted to be like her."
With the $550,000 he earned at the track last year, Wesley Ward bought his mother a mink coat and gave himself a black Thunderbird. Ward, 17, is not betting on horses, he is riding them. Last year, in his first season out, the 5'4", 100-pound teenager was named top apprentice jockey in the country, winning 335 races. The son of a jockey-turned-trainer, Wesley was raised on a horse farm in Yakima, Wash, and began his career on the county-fair circuit at 12, winning 158 races in three summers. Since last March he has ridden out of New York under the direction of Steve Cauthen's former superagent, Lenny Goodman. "He knows all the good horses," says Wesley, "and he gets me on the best." Wesley does the rest. A composed rider who blushes when he is recognized off the track, Wesley recently graduated from apprentice to full-fledged jockey. Although he may have fewer mounts, at least in the beginning, Ward has no intention of breaking his stride. Up at 5:30 a.m., he exercises horses before breakfast, then he dabbles at three high-school-senior correspondence courses between riding and watching others race. After a 12-hour day at the track, Wesley heads home for pizza or tacos and an evening of television. What does he watch? Horse races he has videotaped.