Preakness patrons place last-minute bets as post time nears

May 21, 2011|By Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun

"Winner, winner, chicken dinner," Jim Molenari said loudly as the teller behind the glass betting booth handed over his winnings for the 10th race.

Molenari, a fifth-grade teacher from Bucks County, Pa., had never done as well in his first 16 trips to the Pimlico as he did today.

Going into the Preakness, he had a four-race winning streak.

"All because of the lady in the pink hat," said Molenari, adding that he was about $100 in the black.  

Molenari couldn’t recall her name, but he knew she was from Bermuda and had spent most of the day picking winners. Was she a handicapper or some sort of psychic? Doubtful, Molinari said, noting that “she was picking the horses based on the their names ... like if it sounded like someone who was married to her cousin."

(The woman actually was Heather Conyers, Canada's consul to Bermuda. She said she finished in the money on six of eight races, mainly by picking horses that looked cool and collected.)

Molenari wasn't using the lady in the pink hat for his Preakness bet. For that he was relying on his students, which he has done every year.

"They've probably been right more than half the time," Molenari said.

And their choice?

King Congie, a 20-1 longshot.

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