“Just pick a name you like.” That’s sage advice from She of We that spans the sporting world from the NCAA March Madness to the World Series. Last week we discovered it works at the track also.
Our track is a harness track, not world famous but not completely unknown. In harness racing, standardbred horses (not thoroughbreds) pull sulkies piloted by drivers (don’t call them jockeys) at either a pace or a trot from a rolling start (not from a gate). Ours is 5/8 mile track around which a horse paces or trots but hopefully never gallops 1.6 times to make a one mile race. And most of them finish up faster than 2 minutes. Not a bad time for a big horse pulling a stripped down cart with a 160 pound driver pulling back on the reins most of the way around to keep the big guy in stride. If you haven’t seen one, type in “Harness Racing” in some search engine. There must be plenty of videos out there.
Naturally, where there are horses there will be gambling. With gambling there will be official programs, unofficial programs, tip sheets, systems, and hunches. But we had something else. We had a former owner with us.
We should explain that we in this instance were more than just He and She of We. We also had both Sons of She, Daughter and Guest of He, Sisters of He, Friends of Sons of She, all gathered to commemorate the anniversary of the birth of Son Number One of She who had selected this very venue as his celebration site. We all sat at the rail just a foot or two beyond the finish line at the noted son’s preference, with balloons and cake and gifts, certainly a first for us at the track if not a first for the track. If we had big hats and string ties we’d have been the envy of those most recently at Louisville and Baltimore. But we digress.
Among Those of We was Former Owner who had trained and run horses at this very track. It was like having the ultimate insider among us. One who understood those bizarre program abbreviations. One who could look at a horse and tell who would be likely to break stride. One who knew the drivers (don’t call them jockeys), and when the favorites were too much of a favorite to spend $2. We were in the money. Yeah, right.
Number One Son of She had never been to a race track and never bet on a horse. But he jumped right in, studied the program, pondered his wagers, and thoughtfully bet each race. We’re not really sure exactly how well he did or didn’t do but he ended the night with a big smile so we figure he probably broke even and at least had fun. Daughter of He and her guest sat and watched and waited and waited and watched and waited until the one race he apparently was waiting for while watching. He played his sole bet of the night, a straight exacta based on something he never revealed. He also never revealed how much he bet for that race but unfortunately it equaled how much he lost for the night. Number Two Son of She was the big winner pulling in over $200 on a large purse trifecta. Of course that was the race when he returned to the table from the betting window and compared his ticket with his notes he exclaimed that he picked the wrong horse and was there time to go make another bet just as the track announcer announced, “and they’re off and pacing.”
He and She of We had the perfect system. She would pick a horse, he would bet on her selection. Using Former Owner’s keen interventions combined with a keen sense of matching horses’ names to former vacation places we managed to break even for the evening. When the companion of one of the Friends of Sons of She asked how she picked her horses, She of We spared her of all the technical jargon Former Owner used. “Pick whatever you want. Find a name you like, a driver you like (don’t call them jockeys), or the horse’s color you like and stick with that.”
Well, that’s when the lady sitting at the table next to us couldn’t take it anymore. “You might as well just give them your money,” she huffed. As the evening wore on we overheard her explain her system to her companion. “Bet on every horse in the race and you’ll be sure to hit the winner.”
Why didn’t we think of that? Well, the math works out that one would spend about $300 to win about $20. Personally, we like Number Two Son of She’s system. Pick the wrong horse in your highest wager of the night. It works every time.
Now, that’s what we think. Really. How ‘bout you?