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Two weeks ago I had the great opportunity to go to New Orleans and take in the Louisiana Derby. This past Saturday Tom Quigley invited me to be on his paddock show from Santa Anita, The Great Race Place.

What a great trip it was!

Santa Anita has one of the most beautiful settings in all of horse racing with the mountains in the background, and the weather was just perfect. We had a great time doing the show and took in all 11 races. I am happy to say I did not leave any of my money won in the Big Easy behind.

Santa Anita is a must-go-to if you love horse racing. The facility with all the upgrades is just top notch along with the great racing.

Dortmund, the huge 17 hands, 3yo colt took the Grade I Santa Anita Derby field wire-to-wire in what was a huge performance. He keeps his undefeated record as he heads into the Kentucky Derby along with his two stablemates One Lucky Dane, who finished second in the SA, and the highly regarded American Pharoah, who trainer Bob Baffert says is the best horse in his barn and one of the best he has ever trained.

Those are some big words coming out of the mouth of Baffert!

American Pharoah runs this Saturday in the Arkansas Derby, a race we took in last year. He will have very little competition as the big dogs all have had their last preps. Look for another easy win, but that may not be a good thing going into a race like the Kentucky Derby.

As for Dortmund, he seems to be just getting better and we may not have seen his best. One thing he does have going for him is that he has run over the Churchill Downs surface, getting an easy win.

Back to New Orleans, I just want to thank some people down there who made the trip one of the best experiences we have had in a long time.

Brad Bryant, a Las Vegas transplant, really helped us at the track. Brad was a top race and sports book manager here in Vegas and took those talents to a new level in New Orleans overseeing slots and the OTB operation at the Fairgrounds. We thank the track for all the improvements: the big screen in the infield and the paddock, many more mutual clerks and just great service in the clubhouse.

Dinner with Tom Amoss at Ruth’s Chris in Metairie was great. Two other spots you must see in New Orleans are the Restaurant Revolution (WOW!) and Café Degas, a wonderful little French spot right by the track.

Our hotel rooms were tops. Thanks to Tammie Fulton of Dimension Development, the company that manages and owns hotels in New Orleans plus cities nationwide. Also many thanks to Ms. Jennifer, director of sales, who made sure the rooms were up to standards.

It is very important to myself and my friends who were with me to thank Kenny Reagan “the Shag” who knows everyone in New Orleans, especially at the track. The Shag set us up with Amoss.

The Shag, a lifelong horse bettor just could not come up with many winners, but everything else he does overshadows in a big way the few losers.

The biggest thanks goes out to a big hearted and wonderful guy named Mike Paciera, who has had horses since he was in his teens and still is in the breeding end. He supplied our table in the clubhouse on the finish line for the second time for the Louisiana Derby.

Mike is a good friend plus a very generous person and we wish him, his sidekick Johnny and his horses the best.

Seminar alert

Just three weeks till our big Kentucky Derby seminar in the Palace Station race book Thursday, April 30 at 6 p.m. It is free along with the pizza, soft drinks and cocktail service.

Ralph Siraco, myself and Professor Gordon Jones, who gave us the trifecta at last year’s seminar, will be there. The three of us will cover all the horses running in the Kentucky Derby along with the Kentucky Oaks that will be run on Friday, May 1.

So don’t tell me you’ve got nothing to do. Get your pencil and paper, head to Palace Station race book and don’t forget make a bet. You just maybe walking around lucky and not even know it.

Play ball with GT

Baseball is here and we at GT will be on top of the situation with daily selections on with the best bet of the day and our daily consensus selections from all of our handicappers.

In these early days of the season take a big look at the first five inning bet. These top hurlers will not go more than six or seven innings so betting the first five will get you away from many things that can happen when teams start going into the bullpen.

We will keep you posted on this bet as the season progresses.

Tough luck, Cal

The NCAA basketball champion was crowned after GamingToday went to press. I will be happy either way as both Duke and Wisconsin are deserving. I really don’t want to get anyone in a tizzy but it just makes me happy to see no Calipari in the final game. Thank you, Badgers.

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

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