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Shining up the (old man's) Chrome

May 2, 2014 - Neil Rudel
It's post time for the Kentucky Derby, and I'm getting mixed messages from my resident expert, Dave Rudel.

After failing to get a call since 2003 when he shocked the racing world, or at least Blair County, by nailing Funny Cide, a 15-1 shot, Dad has tried to distance himself from the phone on the Wednesday-Thursday before Derby Day these last few years.

Even transitioning his pick out of the traditional print product and onto this blog hasn't changed his luck.

So I played a little reverse psychology on the big fella this week and didn't plan to call him until Friday. Sure enough, he called the house Thursday wondering why he hasn't heard from me.

"You're in trouble with your dad," Dianne reported. "Better call him."

If that wasn't surprising, wait until you hear his pick. After all, longtime readers of my dad's advice -- OK, it's now pretty much down to Larry McAleer and Mirror photo chief J.D. Cavrich -- know he almost never goes for the chalk.

Well, that's apparently changing: Dad has shined up heavy favorite California Chrome, and he's riding him.

"This is a special for your friend McAleer," Dad said Friday morning. "Tell him to bet California Chrome and wheel that with all the horses. That means put two bucks on every other horse to come in second!"

I tell him Larry doesn't need a course in how to wheel a bet.

"Dad, this is the guy that spends his Sunday afternoons trying to hit a 'middle.''

Chrome was 5-2 on Thursday, but Dad claims, "He'll probably go off at even money, and my source tells me nobody's going to be near this horse so if somebody wants to put up 40 bucks, he might win a big ticket."

I remind Dad that he taught me it doesn't take an expert to pick the favorite, especially the heavy favorite.

"Nobody's going to touch him," he said. "And I can't reveal my source."

I gently mention that, at 82, most of his sources in the Westwood Plaza are, well, gone, but he's not deterred.

"I don't know that my source has had too many winners," he acknowledged, "but he stopped me on the street and said, 'If you have any making up to do, this is the year to do it.'"

So where's the 10-1, the 15-1 shot that makes it exciting?

Dad liked Hopportunity -- "Baffert horse, strong finisher," -- but he scratched.

Presented with his info, McAleer immediately projected that Chrome could be dropped from his plans, and Cavrich has his eye on Ride on Curlin, ridden by Calvin Borel and a 15-1 shot.

Either way, enjoy the best two minutes in sports. Post time is 6:24 p.m. Saturday.

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