Epicenter

Preakness Stakes favorite Epicenter jogs before his workout on Thursday in Baltimore.

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BRATTLEBORO — I imagined Pat Trombley pulling a wad of trifecta tickets out of his front pocket, just as he used to do after each race at Hinsdale Greyhound Park on Sunday afternoons, and hoping to see “21-3-10” on one of them.

I figured “Little” Larry Gilmet, who was known to buy quick picks at the OTB on Route 119, was the only other person on this planet who could have possibly cashed in one of those $14,870.70 exotic tickets after a longshot named Rich Strike surprised us all in the Kentucky Derby.

“Did you bet on the winner?” a couple of people asked me the following week.

Negative.

I didn’t drink nearly enough mint juleps to make me think that a 3-year-old who had only previously won a maiden race would be able to weave his way through the field and blow by the best colts in the world.

“That race is history, the next one’s a mystery,” is what my dad likes to tell me each summer at Saratoga.

On the Triple Crown trail, the next one would be the Preakness Stakes — a slightly shorter race in Baltimore on Saturday night.

The traditional song “Maryland My Maryland.” The Woodlawn Vase. A blanket of yellow and black flowers to the champion.

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The experts believe that Early Voting will go to the lead, with Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath and Kentucky Derby runner-up Epicenter having the best chances to pass him on the 1 3/16-mile course. Some of my friends — possibly drunk on Black-Eyed Susans already — don’t exactly see it that way.

Gail Ainsworth, for instance, predicted that Happy Jack will prevail at 30-to-1 odds. Who knows, maybe “G-Money” got her hot tip from one of the billion Twitter podcasts.

Ever since the Run for the Roses on May 7, there has been the usual talk of contenders wheeling right back with just two weeks rest versus the new shooters that have not run since mid April. The other conversation seems to be how the best filly in the land (Secret Oath) will fare against the boys.

We know that three of the last five Preakness winners did not run in the Kentucky Derby. We know that six females have finished first in the second jewel.

We also know that Infieldfest is where it’s at on Saturday at Pimlico, with The Chainsmokers, Moneybagg Yo and Frank Walker getting the party started inside the track.

Using a little bit of what I’ve learned over the years from local handicapping buddies such as Carly John, Archie Latulippe, Tim Rooney, Al Duda, Ray Barnes, Jim Foley, Mike Barre, Wanda Wheelock, Big John, Larry Bober, Todd Bell, Randy Holhut, Christian Avard, Trombley, Gilmet, and my dad, I’ll be weaving my way through the intoxicated crowd in order to place a $2 straight trifecta wager on Pimlico’s 13th race...

Our Preakness play: 8)Epicenter, 2)Creative Minister, 5)Early Voting.

Shane Covey can be reached at scovey@reformer.com or

802-254-2311 X163. On Twitter:

@ShaneCovey.