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They’re off to the races!

Jason’s betting on himself

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They’re off to the races!

So who is the better bettor - Manteca Bulletin reporter Jason Campbell, left, or his colleague Jagada Chambers? We'll find out when the 150th San Joaquin County Fair opens Wednesday with horse raci...

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED June 13, 2010 2:07 a.m.
Russell Baze.

He might not be a household name, but in the eyes of my fellow scribe, and soon to be mortal enemy, he might as well be Steve Cauthen – the jockey that rode Affirmed to the last Triple Crown.

And the last time I checked, Baze – the prodigy of Golden Gate Fields – hadn’t won a single race in the Triple Crown series, let alone had a mount on a horse of that caliber.

Now don’t mistake my words about Baze as a sign of disrespect. If anything, I’d more that likely to lay a bet down on him simply because of his success over the years and the remarkable runs he’s made during his long career.

But while he was at the San Joaquin Fairgrounds last year and ran away with almost every race, he had spent the previous year on vacation on the dime of Golden Gate Fields.

Basically, Baze might not be at the track this year – just like he wasn’t two years ago – and that could only hurt sportswriter Jagada Chambers.

See, Jagada and I will have a friendly bet on the opening day of Stockton’s horseracing – each one of us will put a $20 bet on the richest race, and the victor will undoubtedly have bragging rights for the next year.

But much like Jagada, I too won my first several races when I went to the Preakness Day at Winners at the fairgrounds, and I did so without a clue as to what I was doing.

But since then, three years ago, I’ve read books, I’ve hit the Southern California circuit, and I’ve taken in as much knowledge as I possibly could along the way. I talked to owners, I talked to trainers, and most of all, I learned how to read the Daily Racing Form – the Bible of the sport that gives each and every stat known to possible.

My opponent likes to watch the post parade, check the jockey riding that day, and read up on the trainer and how he has fared so that year.

And that’s all fine and good.

But they don’t call it gambling for nothing.

Last year Big Brown was supposed to win the Triple Crown with ease, but the length of the track got to him and he faded faster than a hurdler who didn’t quite clear the hurdle.

Anything can happen. And those who bet money on Big Brown not only lost money, but those who bet against him made a killing.

So what’s it going to be? The full $20 on a longshot. A quinella (horses finishes first and second in either order), or the big bets – the Trifecta and the Superfecta that pays the most money but are the hardest to hit.

We’ll find out Wednesday.

But I just hope that those books I loaned Jagada helped, because he’s going to need it in order to walk out to of the San Joaquin Fairgrounds with more money in his pocket than I do.

Well the best man win? You bet.

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