Pincay onlyjock to trust

Jun 5, 2007 7:09 AM

A month ago, everyone was wishful thinking that this Sunday we would finally be celebrating a Triple Crown winner.

All the race and sports books in town would love to be going into this Saturday’s Belmont Stakes with Street Sense having a shot at the Triple. Well Street Sense has no shot and is skipping the Belmont. His connections decided to rest him for some big races later in the year including the Breeders’ Cup.

Probably a very good decision for them, but not for the racing public. We would have loved to see a rematch between Street Sense, Hard Spun and Preakness winner Curlin. I really can’t get too excited about the Belmont, which offers very little shot of a good payoff. I may be betting a house Q looking to get 2/1 or better on my bet.

It should be just a two horse race, but I will need at least six to start in order to play a house Q. I am not a fan of jocks, having seen them cost me and a lot of other horse players a small fortune. The last real rider I admired was Lafitt Pincay Jr. nicknamed "The Pirate." If you had Pincay on 100 horses you would get at least 99 good rides.

Now it’s about 50/50 with most of these jocks that seem to find trouble, especially if they are the chalk. Pincay was just awesome and one of the strongest riders of all time. He was never afraid of going inside or pushing between horses to get the win. If you ever saw him with his shirt off, he was solid muscle.

Sometimes a jockey upgrade on a horse will make you take notice. The upgrade in the Belmont will be Garrett Gomez taking the mount on Hard Spun in place of the capable Mario Pino. I have nothing against Pino, but going to the much stronger and talented Gomez could be the answer. I don’t see him making any mistakes pace wise in this short field.

Also, I love the fact Hard Spun had very good work over the Belmont track with Gomez in the saddle for the five furlong practices. There will be a very different pace scenario in the 1½-mile Belmont.

Expect slow early and middle fractions as Garrett attempts to take control and have plenty of horse left for the stretch run. If he is left alone with some slow early fractions, the race could be over when hitting the top of that very long Belmont stretch.

Hard Spun could be long gone with Gomez waving his whip in the air. I actually envisioned this outcome in my usual way of handicapping. The feisty and talented Curlin will chase Hard Spun down the lane, despite being hampered by the slow pace. That’s my house Q.

I will make a win bet on Hard Spun if able to get 5/2. As for the super filly Rags To Riches, I think trainer Todd Pletcher and owners Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith are out of their minds to run her this week. The rest of the field is the rest of the field.

Ultimate Wynn

Another big event going on in Vegas this Thursday and Friday will be The Ultimate Game. Held at Wynn Golf and Country Club, this will be the richest golf event ever played. The odds are posted in the resort’s Race and Sports Book.

I spent this past week playing the ponies at Wynn with little or no success, so I will try to recoup some of my losses hoping that what little I know about golf will pay off. I know little or nothing about any of the final players except one.

I made two plays, first taking a shot with former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Rick Rhoden. I new Rhoden when was becoming a legend for hustling many top golf pros in Pittsburgh. Rick is the all-time leading money winner of the Celebrity Golf Association Tour and has won its Championship event at Lake Tahoe more times than anyone else. He’s a big-time player, having hit the PGA Seniors Tour for some events. He won’t choke.

My other play was Chris Berry, who a little bird told me has been playing on the Wynn course and had a very nice par 70 on the 7,042 yard layout.

John Avello, director of Race and Sports for Wynn, told me Kevin Streelman is the player with the best chance to win. John did pass on a nice horse winner to me and the boys on Saturday, but I think that he knows less about golf than me.

By the way, before following this advice, I must warn you that my golf clubs are at the bottom of Lake Mead.






Randy Leen



Kevin Streelman



Erik Compton



Rick Rhoden



Ron Faira



Tony Finau



Scott Piercy



Byron Smith



Travis Johnson



Chris Berry



Kenneth Jarner



Nathan Whitson