With a dollar seven in my TVG account,
I looked back on my summer trying to handicap Saratoga. I had a bad six weeks
after starting with a very real, hard earned bankroll of $150.00. And it’s the
last day of the meet and I feel lucky, so it’s time for the only thing I can do
and that’s ask my wife if I can put 20 more into my account. It is after all
the Hopeful, I pleaded.
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
My loving wife told me that it was
ok and that I could go do my favorite Indian dance of victory. Since I was in
my loincloth anyway, I figured to go for it. Accelerated and Hopeful is more
than a good name for a horse, it was how I was feeling when I when out and
bought the New York Post to help me, to guide me in a Zen like trance towards
victory. I only live two hours from The Spa but today, I prefer to bet at home
where the drinks are cheaper, the lines at the windows are non-existent and the
dog yells with us as they are coming down the stretch.
Scanning my computer screen and the
newspaper, I study like I should have in school many years ago. But studying
doesn’t help. Saratoga was a baffling one for many a gambler this summer
including my friend Beetle who claimed he, “couldn’t pick a nose this meet at
the Spa.” Bet the favorite and lose. Bet the mid-range odds and lose. Bet a
long shot and be humbled at the loss.
I grew resentful and angered at the prettiest
place in the world to lose your money. The beauty of “The Toga” is compared to
a very pretty girl who uses you for your bucks with promises of repayment and
maybe other things. Frilly things that go bump in the night. But the beauty
never pays off BIG like you would have hoped. (Except for my hits on the Travers
With a few pieces of cold Sicilian pizza in me, I scan the
horses for the first race and discover that there are more scratches than
someone with poison ivy. Races that were to be run on the Mellon turf track
will now be run on the main dirt track due to the monsoon like rains that the
Spa has been enduring for the past three days.
One dollar bets are my lot due to my begged upon bank roll. I
choose a 2/11 daily double and a WPS bet on the number One. And I get kicked in the head. I know that I’m not betting big money. But it’s
all that I’m willing to afford….it’s all that my wife will let me spend. I just
want to be a winner and not lose my shirt. I’m not henpecked. I just know my
place in money matters. I would be spending everything on past performances,
stale pretzels and betting all tracks till there was no more. I love the thrill of winning. And losing money
from a credit card is almost a sin.
I lost the second and third and I couldn’t hit my head with a
hammer. I wait for the Hopeful for I know that I will bring home the win. I
curl up with My Teddy Bear in the Fourth. And I wish I had a binky because My
Teddy Bear left me crying. And I quit betting forever. And what that really
means is I lost the fifth and six races as well.
Taking the seventh and eighth off, I wait for the ninth-The
Hopeful. I’m now torn between Wired Brian and the undefeated Long on Value. I decide
to fly with Long on Value because for the betting man he is long on value at
8-1 when the bell rang.
And they’re off. Tom Durkin calls a strong race at a quick
pace with a 22 and change at the 1/4. The pace is blistering. It’s a tightly fitted
box filed of horses that moves 45 mph. But around the last corner, Long on
Value fades fast as the pace was too much for him. At the top of the stretch, it’s
Strong Mandate galloping to a 10 length victory that paid 16.20 for a two
dollar bet. And of course I didn’t have him.
Long on Value was short on desire and stamina and finished
well back in the pack. My twenty was gone. And that’s the way Saratoga was to
me all six weeks of the summer meet. I did better this past summer at Del Mar,
as its seasons closes out this week. But I’m not a two hour drive from Del Mar.
See you Saratoga, you were cruel to me this summer but I’ll be back next year.
~ Written by Johnnie Carrier, a freelance writer, whose wife Dawn played
all show bets and won including The Hopeful. “Oh I’m hearing it now.” email@example.com