ESPN Horse Racing

A 'Magic' Preakness exacta
By Jay Cronley
Special to

I would like for you to meet the guy who had the fat Exacta at the Preakness. None of the expert handicappers seemed to have had it.

Preakness Stakes
Jockey Victor Espinoza, right, reacts atop War Emblem after winning the Preakness as Proud Citizen, left, with Mike Smith riding finishes third.
If one of them did, then he or she bets differently than what's made public, because nobody said anything about Magic Weisner, the local horse that knew where the fast wet dirt was spread and came out of nowhere to run second and pay $33 on the place.

The guy with the winning Exacta ticket had a big beer in his left hand and a little beer and his right hand and a joyful look on his face; he was attempting to turn an expression of complete surprise into one of horsy knowledge.

The huge Exacta payoff of $320 and change had sobered him up some, a circumstance previously thought to be impossible.

Before making the celebratory walk to the window to collect, he had some things to say.

It's big-race tradition, winners get to talk, losers have to listen.

First, he said the racing world owed jockey Laffit Pincay an apology. This is not a bad point to come from anybody, let alone a man dripping beer.

Laffit Pincay was kicked off Medagalia d'Oro by trainer Bobby Frankel after this horse ran fourth in the Kentucky Derby. After reviewing the tapes of the Derby and the Preakness, it is obvious that Pincay deserved a certificate of commendation for running fourth at Churchill Downs, not his walking papers.

Had bettors known that Frankel would truck Medagalia d'Oro to the races like a horse that was going to Maryland to be in a parade on Main Street, its odds would have been closer to 10-1 than 3-1. Medagalia d'Oro rode some four hours to the races on game day, leaving at around midnight.

The next thing the man with the big Exacta ticket in one hand and two beers in the other hand said was that you could forget Magic Weisner in the Belmont, no matter what the "experts" were saying about the way the horse closed. Because as every astute horse player knows, extra distance usually means that a big-time closer will close less than what has happened before at a shorter distance.

It has to do with physics.

Getting back to cashing in: The Preakness appears to have been one of those races where the gamblers who needed the money the most won it.

The $1 and $2 bettors.

The big shots who liked War Emblem were betting $100 Exacta boxes with Proud Citizen and Medagalia d'Oro, and $50 straight Exactas with War Emblem and U S S Tinosa.

For my money, the national handicapping experts had another rotten day.

Picking the favorite doesn't count unless you also picked it one race back.

Or unless you had it with the local hero that ran second in the Preakness.

Like my friend here. Before cashing in, he had several people to thank.

First, he owed a great debt to all those who hadn't told his wife where he was.

Next, he was forever grateful to the person loaning him a ten-spot so that he could complete his winning Preakness wager.

This is what his ticket said.

$2 Exacta Wheel.

War Emblem.

With All.

Now that's handicapping.

Triple threat: War Emblem wins Preakness

Preakness Stakes results

Magic Weisner's narrow loss is worth celebrating

Finley: Looking like a Triple Crown winner

Mayne: Just another day at the track for Baffert