Tips for the Serious Handicapper

In playing this field, bettors can make certain assumptions to increase the odds of success. First and foremost: One of the positions -- and only one of the positions -- will go to a Hispanic commissioner. Therefore, playing the exotics that involve both spots (i.e., perfectas and quinellas) is a potentially lucrative strategy. And though plays such as the Teele-Margolis perfecta are tempting, they seem unthinkable, given that the commission's six Hispanics are unlikely to allow themselves to be completely shut out. Likewise, the reverse holds true, virtually ruling out non-Anglo pairings such as Penelas-Millan or Reboredo-Ferre in perfectas or quinellas.

Millan received a lot of early play, in the form of "M&M" bets -- Millan-Margolis and Millan-Moss. Driving that strategy was the belief that a Hispanic would emerge as chairman this time around. Last year five of the six Hispanic commissioners were new to county government, and rather than back the lone incumbent (Alex Penelas), they all supported Teele. (In a fit of pique, Penelas lambasted his fellow Cuban-American commissioners in the media, accusing them of forfeiting the chairmanship to a non-Hispanic by not supporting him. For his outburst, Penelas was roundly criticized for "playing the ethnic card.") In this year's contest, the Hispanic sentiment is no less strong.

The problem with excluding all but the Hispanics for the top spot -- and the reason Teele emerged as favorite -- is that the Hispanic commissioners have shown themselves to be far from a unified bloc that can be counted on to work in concert with one another. Some of the strongest divisions and personality clashes on the dais are among Hispanic commissioners. Or, as one prominent player who sized up this field put it: "They all hate each other."

The Penelas Principle: While Penelas is likely to stay out of the race, he is said to be toying with the role of kingmaker, in the belief that if he can successfully build a coalition around a particular commissioner -- Natacha Millan, for instance -- he could not only gain the chair's attention when he wanted it, but he would also have an important and well-placed ally going into the 1996 mayoral campaign.

Exotic Betting Options with probable payoffs, where applicable (payoffs based on a $2 bet)

The straight Teele-Millan perfecta: If this marriage has been made, then the race is a romp. (Probable payoff=$8)

Teele-Reboredo: A logical if uninspired bet. (Probable payoff=$16)
Teele-Ferre: A return to the security of the status quo. (Probable payoff=$14)

Wheel Teele: Placing Teele in the chairman's slot, bet him in combination with each of the six Hispanics as vice chairman. (Payoffs vary)

The M&Ms: (Millan-Moss or Millan-Margolis) A nice money bet. (Probable payoff=$40)

Millan-Reboredo quinella: Not likely in this lifetime. (Probable payoff=$50)
The so-called S&M bet: (Souto-Millan) No one's that kinky. (Probable payoff=$180)

A scheduling note to all race fans: Should Teele win, it is possible another race for the Chairman's Cup might be held in a few short months -- if Jeb Bush wins the governorship. A steadfast Republican, Teele may find a new home in a Bush administration in Tallahassee. According to the county charter, in the event a Metro chairman resigns, the vice chairman does not automatically take over the top post. There's a whole new Derby!

The problem with excluding all but the Hispanics for the top spot -- and the reason Teele emerged as favorite -- is that the Hispanic commissioners have

 
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