As trainer, Cantey gets last word

On Horse Racing

July 28, 1996|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

One hour before this year's Preakness, Charlsie Cantey of ABC stood outside the Stakes Barn at Pimlico and, live on national TV, interviewed D. Wayne Lukas.

Cantey stood in nearly the same spot Friday, but her role was reversed. She answered -- not asked -- the questions after a 2-year-old filly she trains, Special Surprise, won the third race. It was Cantey's first win as a trainer.

"I've wanted to do this all my life," she said. "I guess the fear of failure always kept me from doing it -- until now."

Cantey has worked around horses since her days in college, galloping them at Delaware Park and then in New York. She worked for trainer Frank Whiteley and with her former husband, Joe Cantey.

Her most visible association with horses, however, was as racing commentator with CBS and now ESPN and ABC.

Two months after interviewing Lukas here at Pimlico -- she asked him about firing Pat Day off Prince of Thieves -- Cantey's young horses now occupy the same stalls in the Stakes Barn that the Lukas horses did.

She trains 11 horses. After 10 starts -- eight in Maryland and two at Atlantic City -- she saddled her first winner Friday. Special Surprise, making her second start, blazed to victory in a 5 1/2 -furlong maiden claiming race -- and paid $56.60 to win.

A huge smile on her face, Cantey high-fived and hugged her employees in the winner's circle. Later, at the barn, she said of her new life as trainer:

"It's kind of taking on a life of its own. I don't know where it's going to lead. But so far I'm having a wonderful time."

Dog day of summer

Three dogs got loose Friday in the infield and on the track at Pimlico, delaying the ninth race for 15 minutes. The track's TV monitors showed the dogs as they raced away from security officials, broadcasting the canine exploits to simulcast sites around the country.

The phone rang in the Pimlico press box. Dale Austin, a track publicist, answered.

"Just got a call from a guy in Florida at Calder," Austin said after hanging up. "He wants to get down $5 on the No. 3 dog."

Disappointing win

With a lawyer named Clarence Gamble and a horse named Crookedline, this story could be from the pages of a Dick Francis novel.

A guy named Greg called The Sun from Vegas, mad as a hornet. He wouldn't give his last name, but it seems that on July 20 Greg bet $100 at a Vegas casino on the sixth race at Maryland's Rosecroft Raceway.

A 26-1 horse won, a 54-1 horse finished second and a 49-1 horse ran third. Holding one winning $1 trifecta ticket, Greg expected to collect thousands.

When the trifecta payoff flashed onto the casino screen, Greg was crushed. Although the winning horse paid $55.60 to win and the place and show prices were astronomical, the trifecta paid only $1,170.80.

Greg's $1 ticket was worth half that.

"I was irate," Greg screamed into the phone. "I never play a favorite. I hate favorites.

"I've been betting horses for 30 years, and there's no conceivable way you can have that kind of payoff with those kinds of odds."

Greg called Rosecroft. He called the Maryland Racing Commission. He called newspapers and TV stations. He always declined to give his last name, but freely announced his lawyer's: Clarence Gamble.

L And the winning horse in Greg's nightmare race? Crookedline.

But Don Codey, Rosecroft's general manager, insists that nothing crooked occurred in the sixth race July 20.

"Clearly, this price does not reflect the odds of the horses," Codey said. "But I've watched the race numerous times, and I can't find anything wrong. And there was nothing irregular in the betting pattern at all."

According to Codey, bettors at Rosecroft and all simulcast sites

wagered $13,500 into the trifecta pool. Despite three long shots finishing 1-2-3, he said, $17 was bet on the winning trifecta -- $11 at Rosecroft, $5 in Kentucky, and Greg's $1 in Las Vegas. That translates into the $1,1170.80 payoff.

What may have happened, Codey said, was that in three of the first five races that Saturday night, the 2 and 5 horses ran first and second. Numbers players perhaps picked up on that and bet the same combination in the sixth race, which came in 5-2-6. That would account for the shockingly low payoff, he said.

Mike Hopkins, deputy director of the Maryland Racing Commission, said he would examine computer printouts of the race's betting pools this week.

Codey said he welcomed Hopkins' inquiry.

But Greg still fumes. At first he said the track must be holding back the payoff, and then he said the drivers must have fixed the race so their relatives could cash bets.

"I think somebody's pulling some kind of scam here," Greg said.

A lesson to learn

Parents, gather up your children. Read them the following: On April 13, moments after the highly regarded Unbridled's Song won the Wood Memorial, the colt's owner, Ernie Paragallo, stood before reporters at Aqueduct Park and said: "I don't think he's going to be beaten again -- ever."

Not only has Unbridled's Song lost every race since, but he also endured a cracked hoof, lung infection, ulcers, pulmonary bleeding, cracked splintbone and finally, last week, eviction from his home at Jim Ryerson's barn to a new stall at Nick Zito's.

The lesson here is clear, isn't it children?

Now, children, gather up your parents. Repeat the above.

Pub Date: 7/28/96

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