Dollars and `Sense' don't mix on this non-expert's race card

The Kickoff

May 18, 2007|By PETER SCHMUCK

If you're waiting for this year's Preakness prediction, you're going to be waiting a long time.

Lest anyone forget, it was almost exactly one year ago today that I declared Barbaro a "mortal lock" to win the Triple Crown and I've been dealing with that guilt ever since.

I don't really believe in jinxes, but I turned off last Sunday's Orioles game in the top of the ninth inning because I was sure that the bullpen could hold a five-run lead at Fenway Park. If memory serves, I also picked the Ravens to beat the Colts in the playoffs and Sanjaya to win American Idol.

No sense taking any chances this weekend.

The sport of horse racing could use a Triple Crown run this year, but I'm not necessarily sold on Street Sense, at least not as a 7-5 favorite in this talented nine-horse field.

If I were betting the race - and I'm not - I would pack several medium long shots on top of a superfecta part-wheel and try to hit the lottery. And you wonder why my Visa card is very close to its credit limit?

Not forgotten

The spirit of Barbaro has been all over Old Hilltop this week, particularly at yesterday's Alibi Breakfast, where Dr. Dean Richardson and jockey Edgar Prado were given a Special Award of Merit for the role they played in trying to save last year's Kentucky Derby winner.

Barbaro's fight to survive became an inspiring international story, but the colt also lives on with the Barbaro Memorial Fund, set up by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association to promote equine health and safety research. The fund had raised $230,000 through the first leg of the Triple Crown.

Familiar face

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has become such a fixture at the Preakness that the Maryland Jockey Club probably would have given him a stable horse to enter if he hadn't brought 20-1 shot Flying First Class to Baltimore.

Lukas showed up for yesterday's Alibi Breakfast and took some playful swipes at Maryland Jockey Club CEO Joe De Francis.

"I was playing golf with Joe the other day and he got a hole-in-one," Lukas said, "but he was so used to cheating he put down a zero."

ESPN analyst and master of ceremonies Chris Lincoln had the last word, however, as Lukas walked away in his bright red argyle sweater vest.

"Nice sweater," Lincoln said. "Don't know whether I would have worn that here in May, but it looks good on you."

Yankee, go home

Trainer Rob Bailes, who will send the Kentucky-bred Mint Slewlep out of the No. 1 post, showed up at the Alibi Breakfast wearing a Yankees cap. He apparently didn't know that's considered poor etiquette around here unless you're at an Orioles game.

Traveling prayer

Nick Zito's horse, C P West, has run five times at five different tracks, debuting at Saratoga before running in the $250,000 Futurity at Belmont Park, a Grade I race at Churchill Downs, a $46,000 allowance race at Gulfstream and the Grade III Withers at Aqueduct.

"He's an ambassador for racing," Zito said.

If that's true, maybe he could canter over to Annapolis and negotiate a slots deal.

Wasted trip

Sorry for the travelogue, but I went right from Pimlico to the Ravens' training facility yesterday because I heard that quarterback Steve McNair would be addressing the media for the first time since he was arrested on a DUI-by-consent charge in Tennessee.

"That's in Tennessee," McNair said. "What happened in Tennessee is left in Tennessee. My lawyer is going to deal with that."

He uttered a couple more innocuous sentences about the legal process, but hardly enough to justify two precious gallons of gas, since there were four other Sun reporters and columnists present.

I had to arm-wrestle Jamison Hensley and Mike Preston for a couple of adjectives and a conjunction.

Clawing to return

In retrospect, I would have been better off covering the annual Preakness Crab Derby at Lexington Market. I was a celebrity crab wrangler at last year's race, but wasn't invited back.

Might have something to do with me accidentally eating several of the contestants.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays and Sundays.

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