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HRN Original Blog:
Bada Bing Inc.

Superstition Ain't the Way

California Chrome arrives 615 X 400
Photo: Churchill Downs / Reed Palmer

The Maryland Jockey Club made a nice gesture in replicating the mistake of its Triple Crown sister track, Churchill Downs, when it purposely misspelled the Derby winner, California Chrome’s name on his saddlecloth. Horsemen saddling their fortunes to four-legged creatures more apt to jump a shadow or mysteriously become lame, than win a race, are prone to feel superstitious for all the right reasons.

What harm is there in walking around, rather than under a ladder or wearing the same underwear two, three, nine or however many times in a row if your horse wins a race? While the practical answer is, “none,” the reality is we, humans, delude ourselves in thinking we hold powers of persuasion over outcomes that are certainly out of our control.

A rally cap, “terrible” towel or an arena entirely filled with white t-shirt wearing spectators are some recent examples of a collective fandom trying to influence their teams. On an individual level, yours truly, a Red Sox fan from birth, tried to exercise the demons of Yankees past in the 2004 playoffs by rolling out all my old pinstriped baseball cards -Piniella, Lyle and Dent - once the Sox where down three games to zero. My rationale was to implore the baseball gods to reverse a century’s worth of curse. We all know how this turned out (smiles to himself whilst writing).

The essential question here is: did my dusting off those two-dimensional Yankees, that soured my autumnal youth year after year, inspire the historic comeback? It helped me feel better, but incantations aside, my personal universe had no effect in helping Dave Roberts steal second base, or the Sox winning four straight. And what about the next two Sox World Series wins? I was superstition-free.

So whether or not California Chrome wins or loses on May 17, is more about the three-year-old’s ability to bounce back just two weeks off his Derby effort, than how his name is spelled on a saddlecloth. If California Chrome regresses too much, and a challenger is ready for a lifetime effort, than he’ll lose. If you think like me, it will take some unusual event like California Chrome tossing his jockey to get in the way of him winning.

With indifference toward misspellings, misgivings or superstition, the Preakness is coming, so toss on your purple socks and stay away from black cats, neither one will actually effect the race.



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Older Comments about Superstition Ain't the Way...

See, in Chicago we have this goat...
Have no fear Brian,you are led by Theo The Magician. I think the only other guy with a better schtick than him is Sandy Alderson who sold a bill of goods to the Mets higher ups.
Sadly so ;-)
Did you let it out of the bag that you are a Cubs Fan Brian.
Giggles, Brian.
From what I understand, superstition in racing has been around as long as racing itself so I think it was really nice of Pimlico to provide the extra saddle towel, just in case....
Tony, so this means I can change my underwear since hitting the Derby trifecta? LOL?
Agreed, agreed...but ya gotta admit, wearing purple socks or seeing his post position number in every address or phone number we run across just makes us FEEL like we're in control...:)

Tony Bada Bing began his lifelong quest of finding winners more than 35 years ago as a fifth grade student. This is when his grandfather first took him to the many Off Track Betting facilities sprinkled throughout Long Island, NY. While many kids his age were clamoring to hit the beach or an amusement park during summer vacation, Bada Bing was spending it in stuffy, smoked-filled rooms filled with retirees and reprobates listening to Marshall Cassidy on tape delay calling Saratoga.

This passion was further lit by his father, who took Bada Bing to East Boston's Suffolk Downs, only after Bada Bing learned to read the Racing Form. For most of his young adult life a summer rotation of NY OTB, Suffolk, and the now shuddered Rockingham Park in Salem, NH filled his betting days. 

Notable winners along the way: Willow Hour's and Runaway Groom's Travers wins as well as Derby winners Grindstone, Thunder Gulch (which he called in print the day before) and Super Saver. His latest quest is to hit the Kentucky Derby superfecta.

Bada Bing plays tournaments at Derby Wars, bets through several account wagering sites and has blogged about Thoroughbred racing for the past four years. He prefers the bigger meets of NYRA and California as well as seasonal meets of Gulfstream, Churchill and Oaklawn. He likes vertical, multirace wagers like Pick 4s.

He has produced several Horse Racing Nation videos, in addition to blogging. He can be found at Twitter @tonycbadabing. While away from the track Bada Bing enjoys time with his wife, who tolerates and supports his passion, and his two children.


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