No Brainer

They call it the most thrilling two minutes in sports, but I like to go with most unpredictable. That was my theory anyway and that’s how I made my bet. (Actually had intern Steve go on a field trip to Pimlico an hour before post time and make the bet. Kind of thought he’d get lost and miss post time. Wish he had.) And this year Barbaro really screwed up the Kentucky Derby betting. Just when you thought it was easy; pick one of the longshots like Giacomo in 2005, then count your loot.

I never even seriously looked at Barbaro to win. And I wonder why I haven’t picked a winner since Affirmed at Belmont. Sold my soul for Cause to Believe. He was supposed to be a finisher like Giacomo. Not sure he ever started.

Great story though in Barbaro with his trainer Michael Matz. A former hero, LITERALLY! Matz saved three children from a burning plane after it crashed while taking off 17 years ago. Even cooler, those three kids (now grown) joined Matz in the stands at Churchill Downs to cheer on Barbaro. And we thought Smarty Jones was a feel good story. If ever there was a horse for which to root on to the Triple Crown, it’s Barbaro. Plus if you add in just two letters, you get Barbarino. And then we have a host of Welcome Back Kotter jokes. Nevermind.

Looking ahead to Preakness, where the favorites tend to fare far better, Barbaro will be a huge early favorite. Ridden by Edgar Prado, a jockey very familiar with Pimlico, Matz has the setup for another big win.

History though also likes horses that failed in Kentucky because of things out of their control. A bad draw sent Brother Derek and Lawyer Ron almost out of contention from the beginning. There are no draws that wide at Preakness.

And please, all week long send me your favorite Preakness memories. e-mail Pete

I’ll share the most interesting, let me rephrase, I’ll share some of the most interesting that won’t get me fired. Keep the debauchery to PG-13.

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