ESPN Horse Racing

Preakness Day's smartest moments
By Jay Cronley
Special to

Horse racing on national television is good for a horse player's reputation because it shows how well we all dress and how little time we spend on gambling, preferring instead to dwell on human interest stories and the beauty of nature.

Preakness Day involved seven and a half hours of mostly live television coverage, three hours on ESPN2, three more on ESPN regular, and a little more than an hour and a half on NBC.

There was so much coverage, several features were repeated over the ESPN hours, one being a story about fancy lawyers forming a successful racing stable. One feature about rich lawyers per decade can be sufficient.

Here are the memorable moments from the Preakness Stakes, as seen on TV.

Bring money
If Smarty Jones went off at 3-5 after winning a competitive race in the muck in Kentucky, imagine what his post-time odds will be at the Belmont States after Dave Johnson could have announced in Baltimore: And down the stretch he comes.

Singular, with the rest of them still cornering.

Smarty Jones could be so strong an odds-on favorite as to create a minus win pool in New York, which is to say there won't be enough wagered on others to cover the tab. The money has to come from somewhere. Hot dog and a beer? Forty two dollars, please.

Best question
An ESPN television reporter named Quint Kennesich asked:

Why do women like Smarty Jones so much?
1. It's a catchy name.
2. It's the story of an underdog.
3. It pays a good rate of return.

Something else positive that could come from Smarty Jones's popularity, on top making the sport look very good, is that hopefully owners will spend more times naming horses, as this one's tag is just right.

Back to Jeannine
During ESPN's marathon pre-race coverage, reporter Jeannine Edwards interviewed everybody but the crabbers.

Women sports reporters on television too often sound like they're speaking to other women.

Jeannine knows horses and speaks to all.

Missing link

Picks are made almost as an afterthought and nobody on television gets down and dirty with dollar Super wheels.

Who are all those people jumping up and down, animal husbandry students?

No, they're gamblers.

The occasional television reference is made to "handicapping." A handicapper is a gambler with a briefcase.

The sucker bets of the Preakness were Lion Heart, whose front-running fatigue was obvious, and Imperialism, who looked good passing wobblers in Louisville. Hank Goldberg made the excellent point that Imperialism was a trendy bet, and those usually lose.

Best bets turned out to be the Exacta and the Trifecta. Rock Hard Ten paying a $5 dividend to place was generous.

Value seekers hit the ATM
Some horse players look for value when a favorite offers a short price.

The unsoundness of the Value Theory has never been more obvious.

How to bet: 1. Look for the winner. 2. Look for the best bet to support this opinion.

Celebrity watch
After prancing around in cartoon clothes two weeks ago at Churchill, the show business people got back to their auditions and road shows and what have you.

The chief celebrity at Pimlico was Maryland governor Robert Erlich Jr., who spoke so effortlessly and sensibly about the need for slot machines to help finance race tracks, and whose easy-going nature made viewers feel immediately at ease, it was hard to believe he was a politician.

Best feature story
One about the John Servis family that showed the road to the Triple Crown races kept him away from his wife and two sons for three months.

Spouse and business partner Sherry Servis came across as a very intelligent woman with the looks of a successful pro golfer's wife.

That's good.

Best camera shot
From the blimp during the early races on ESPN.

From ground level, most races appear tame.

From the blimp, a race looks like a Blue Angels formation, the dangerous angles and close proximities thrillingly obvious.

Most unpopular horse in the world
The first one to beat Smarty Jones.

Smarty Jones wins Preakness by 11.5 lengths

Finley: 'Smarty' looks fit to wear Crown

Preakness results