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Chavez Ghost Whispers Kentucky Derby Winner in My Ear

Javier Castellano
Jockey Javier Castellano on Zagora after winning the Filly and Mare Turf, as owner Martin S. Schwartz looks on during the 2012 Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita Park in 2012. Photographer: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Oh how they ridiculed Venezuela’s acting president, Nicolas Maduro, for telling a national television audience that the late Hugo Chavez visited him in the form of a bird this week.

Opposition party leaders and bloggers hooted and snickered at Maduro after he said that Chavez the bird flew over his head and whistled words of encouragement in his ear while he prayed.

I believe you, Nicolas.

For you see, I too witnessed the former rebel and socialist leader appear in the form of an animal just weeks after his March 5th death. In my vision, he manifested himself as a horse -- the No. 3 horse, to be precise, in the ninth race at Fair Grounds Race Course on March 30.

His name: Revolutionary. His rider: the Venezuelan native Javier Castellano. His previous rider: the Venezuelan-born Ramon Dominguez. Under those two jockeys, Revolutionary has a perfect record of three wins in three races. When paired with a non-Venezuelan rider, he is winless in three tries.

Are these not the telltale signs that this horse is actually Chavez, the leader of Venezuela’s “21st Century Revolution” movement? Maduro would understand me.

Revolutionary captured the Louisiana Derby in heart-stopping fashion that day at the New Orleans racetrack. After breaking last in the field of 14 horses, he circled his rivals, took the lead at the top of the stretch and fought off a late challenger to win the $1 million race and propel himself into the May 4 Kentucky Derby.

He’s my pick to win America’s biggest race.

Public Handicapper

Now I know my Kentucky Derby selections have been something akin to atrocious since I made my debut as Bloomberg’s public handicapper in 2009: Dunkirk finished 11th that year, then Awesome Act jogged home 19th, Soldat 11th and Gemologist 16th.

Forget about those failures. It’s different this time.

My horse, like Maduro’s little bird, has the ghost of a revolutionary on his side.

(David Papadopoulos, the team leader for Latin America markets coverage at Bloomberg News, has been following thoroughbred racing for more than two decades and was runner-up in 2008 Eclipse Award voting for feature writing on the sport. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Muse highlights include Zinta Lundborg on weekend pursuits, Greg Evans and Craig Seligman on movies.

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