Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Race track

My sister and I started our Sunday with a few options: the batting cages, the driving range or the race track. I play poker, I thought, I'll love the track. We went.

The guy who took my admissions fee gave me a program with all the information I needed to feel like a part of the experience. It defined types of bets and offered opinion on which horses looked particularly strong.

The betting options were extensive. I had the option to bet for a win, a place, a show, an exacta, a trifecta, a superfecta or any combination of any of these for any of nine races, each set apart from the others by a half hour of grueling, plentiful research. As soon as the crowd jumped and cheered at the conclusion of the first homestretch, I began to thumb through the program pages to find my strategy. I had 32 minutes.

Each horse had one of four labels: stalker, closer, presser or speed. All of these seemed like winners. I would have liked it if anyone used any one of these to describe me in a race, so I quickly learned to ignore this part of the program. The system had no category for losers. How could I go wrong? I should bet a lot of money, idiots thought all around me.

The track paraded the horses around a circle behind the grandstand during each half-hour break. This must be the secret, I thought. I'll bet on the biggest, baddest horse. This was also a lousy idea since the big, bad horse bucked its jockey while trying to eat its handler four minutes before the race because it wanted the damn oats.

My sister took to reading the wordy descriptions for each horse. An example:

"Lemon Drop Girl has been running into some tough ones in recent times as the winner two races back is red-hot right now and the winner of her last is a consistent type herself. This being her third start back from the layoff, she could be sitting on a peak effort, and one of her better runs would probably be enough to get the job done. There are a few in here who seem capable of giving her a run for her money, but she does look like a solid win candidate."

Another horse in the same race had her "three-race win streak snapped last time." Indeed, she was a "polytrack monster" that was often "nabbed by fast-closing winners." Hmm. The track seemed full of possibilities and passive voice. Of course this seemed like double-talk trash to me, but my sister saw prophetic magic in those words.

After I lost a couple bets I discovered the program declared four probable favorites in order of rank for each race. Yup. So all these gambling fools read the summaries and watched the horses walk around when they could have looked at the best-odds bets in ink.

This discounts the fact that a bettor won more money if he bet on a winning horse with poor odds. I suppose that was the excitement of the race track. Cosmo Kramer understands.

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