Race of the Week 2017

Handicapping Saratoga: The Nightmare

Saratoga Crowd 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
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.

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 Day card)

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.” johnniec5859@verizon.net  






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Older Comments about Handicapping Saratoga: The Nightmare ...

Those wallet sucking girls earn every penny the hard way.
It sure was a tough summer of wagering at the the Spa. A couple of lost photo finishes and what could have been.
I knew this was serious when I read the part about your loincloth.
Johnnie, your pieces always crack me up! Take comfort in knowing that Saratoga wasn't very nice to a lot of people this season, so you are in good company.

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