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It was just exhilarating to watch Exaggerator splash home this past Saturday in the Preakness Stakes, as our headline stated in GamingToday last week DEJA VIEW?

Well it was just not the deja vu the headline was referring to but the deja vu from the Santa Anita Derby. This bettor was sitting trackside at the SA Derby and once we viewed the track at Pimlico on Saturday it looked exactly like the one at SA that day and Exaggerator ran just like he did then with some help again on the front end.

On Santa Anita Derby day on the muddy track it was Danzing Candy setting those crazy fast early fractions and on Preakness day it was Uncle Lino going in :22.1, :46.2. What was Perez thinking? More importantly, what was Mario Gutierrez thinking running with him?

Dave Valento, who goes by the moniker Track Phantom and pens a great baseball sheet called the Strike Zone, which you can view online at, had this to say about Nyquist:

“Nyquist came into the Preakness undefeated and went off as the 3/5 choice. Mario Gutierrez, who guided Nyquist to a perfect trip in the Kentucky Derby, lost the race by ding-donging with 40-1 outsider, Uncle Lino. Had Gutierrez allowed Uncle Lino to go on with the fast pace, Nyquist surely would have had something in reserve when challenged by Exaggerator.

“The first quarter was run in :22.1, the fastest in Preakness history. This is really saying something when you realize the two sprint stakes on the undercard could only produce :23 and :23.2 for the first two furlongs. This was not some souped up, concrete surface that we see on many of the big days. The decision to try and outrun Uncle Lino got Nyquist beat, plain and simple.” (Full article p8)

One thing this exasperated bettor does know is Exaggerator and Nyquist are the two best 3 year olds out there and, in my humble opinion, would have battled in an epic duel to the wire.

Hopefully we will see them hook back up in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 11. There is always a chance of rain in New York and if the track comes up muddy, well… you know were my $$$$$ will be.

Cherry Wine, the second place finisher in the Preakness, hit his head on the right side of the gate and was far back. His late run must be respected in the Belmont, especially with the always dangerous Dale Romans calling the shots.

Then there was this supposed bettor who unloaded $80K on Stradivari and then the wager somehow disappeared. As for Stradivari, he put in a big effort, finishing fourth after making a nice move with Exaggerator down the lane but could not go on with his run. He has a ton of upside and if I were trainer Todd Pletcher I would sit him out in the Belmont and give him a little more time to progress.

A horse this bettor needed to finish third or fourth to spice up the exotics was Lani, who also ran a huge race. The Japanese horse bobbled at the break and was dead last. He was making a move on the turn but had to be steadied off heels. Once clear he kept on with good energy to finish fifth just a length behind Stradivari and seven clear of the rest. If Lani goes in the Belmont we will be using him in the exotics on a fast track.

Horse bettors like me need all the help we can get with these big takeouts that need to be overcome. The answer is Canterbury Park with its all new low takeouts across the board. This bettor took his shots and was well rewarded with some nice payoffs. One thing we do know for you Canterbury bettors is just never leave out a rider by the name of Franco, especially on a price horse… a must use in the exotics.

Also keep an eye out for those runners coming in from Oaklawn Park and Tampa. So far there is good news for Canterbury as the handle was up over 30% in the early going so this, we hope, is working and other tracks will take note. You hear what I’m saying Churchill and New York? I hope so.

Thank you is in order for the bettors and GT readers who showed up at Palace Station to bet the Preakness and the $15K Twin Q. It was great meeting and talking with all of you and I hope we meet again come Belmont Stakes day.

If you love betting baseball, especially round robbins, you can go to and get Track Phantom’s Strike Zone, which is a starting pitcher and umpire report. Great stuff.

You just never know, you could be walking around lucky and not even know it.

Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GT’s horse racing and sports handicapper. Twitter: @SabesBet Email: [email protected]

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