Pick ‘Em: The 2012 Kentucky Derby
Horse players of the world, rejoice—it’s Kentucky Derby Day!
One of the reasons I am a big fan of horse racing is that unlike playing slot machines at a casino or choosing lottery numbers, it takes a great deal of intelligence and skill to gamble at the racetrack. Of course, there are people who make bets solely because the horses have funny names or they look prettier than Secretariat or they have the longest odds on the tote board. Sometimes, this type of wagering works.
I remember my father, who probably knows more about ancient Sumeria than horse racing, won nearly $100 a few years ago when he bet on an ultra-long shot. But a truly successful horse player will consider the pedigree of the horse, jockeys, trainers, weather conditions, owners, breeders, the track’s surface, concessions, veterinarians, and a couple dozen of other sundry factors before making a bet.
Moreover, a person who has gambled on the ponies for a while often becomes extremely cautious on the types of bets he or she will place at a racetrack. For instance, I shy away from exotic bets like Daily Doubles and Trifectas because the odds of winning are extremely minuscule. I prefer making place and show bets because although I do not make much money, I win quite frequently. Even better, I do not lose much money if my nag runs slower than a disabled turtle with a humongous case of constipation.
However, Derby Day is the one day when a gambler will probably be better off choosing horses by the “eeny-meeny-miney-moe” method than reading the Daily Racing Form or listening to a fast-talking wisenheimer bookie. Upsets are about as common at the Derby as mint juleps because it is virtually impossible to determine how twenty nervous 3-year-old thoroughbreds will race 1¼ miles in front of 150,000 screaming fans. For example, who have thought Animal Kingdom, which sounds more like a Mutual of Omaha-Marlon Perkins TV special from the 1970s rather than a racehorse, would win last year?
Or what racing expert in his or her right mind in 1999 would had seriously predicted an ex-claiming horse named Charismatic would triumph in the Derby, and then go on to win the Preakness two weeks later?
To help the inexperienced bettors who think a furlong is a type of mink stole as well as those horse racing nuts who love the smell of equine manure in the morning and knows what type of snacks Aristides ate before winning the first Kentucky Derby in 1875, I have devised a system for choosing this year’s Derby winner. I am not going by odds but rather by dividing the field up into various categories that definitely have not been dreamed up by those smarty-pants racing experts. As they say in Chicago, bet early and often using my system:
Make Room For Daddy and Goddaddy Horses: Daddy Long Legs, Daddy Nose Best, El Padrino (Spanish for godfather).
Sexiest and Unsexiest Sounding Horses: Liaison, Dullahan.
Horse That Looks Like My Little Pony: Hansen.
Holy Roller Horse: Rousing Sermon.
Rich Horse, Poor Horse: Gemologist, Union Rags.
Great Happy Hour Horses: I’ll Have Another, Went the Day Well.
Horses That Sound Like Beers You Guzzle at Happy Hour: Bodemeister, Trinniberg.
Horse You Would Like to Take to a Duel or A Nag That Maybe Should Take Up Fencing Because His Chances of Winning the Kentucky Derby Are So Bad: Sabercat.
Idealistic Artsy-Fartsy Horse: Creative Cause.
Take Charge Alpha Male Horses: Alpha (of course), Take Charge Indy (uh-huh).
A Horse that Sounds Like He Is Digging for Gold: Prospective.
He Has Shut Up But Can He Put Up? Horse: Done Talking.
Horse That Looks On the Bright Side Despite His Odds in the Derby: Optimizer.
And if you really want to be sneaky, you can make your Derby pick the moment when the winner crosses the finish line. Although you will not win any money, at least you will get the smug satisfaction of singing like a third grade schoolgirl to your fellow gamblers, “Nah a nah nah, my horse won, my horse won!”
Joe’s Maybe Memorable Quote of Day
“I have enough horse sense to know not to bet all of my money on horse racing.”