The Same Sad Song: A Racing Story

Saturday was one of the biggest days in the horse racing world, The Breeders Cup World Championships (brought to you by …..) There are eight races for different categories of horses: sprinters, grass runners, young horses, fillies, and The Classic, for the best of the best. It’s an all day event with huge betting pools, meaning that the payouts are often quite large, as they indeed were yesterday. Given that the races are so competitive, the favorites don’t always win, also making for big prices.

Well, early in the week, I was considering watching, but not playing the ‘Cup races. Given how I rarely cash any tickets that day; it’s just tough. As the week wore on, however, I began to pay more attention and listened to a lot of the good folks on The Derby List, a horse racing email list. I talked myself into playing, recognizing that with good, and not obvious selections, I could hit an exotic or two for some nice payouts.

My strategy was to play the Exacta, meaning I had to pick the first and second plan runners, in order. I frequently make these bets, using a $1 box of three horses. In “English” this means that I make 6 $1 bets using all combinations. Interesting bet that, in pools like these, can achieve a nice payoff.

So coming into the Distaff for fillies and mares, about the fourth on the day, I’m my usual 0 for the day, not even getting close to one of my picks hitting the board. After making my selections, I was feeling confident about my four horse box of Round Pond, Fleet Indian, Asi Siempre, and Baletto. The gates flew open and off they went, all of my horses in contention. As they headed for home, my 11:1 longshot, Round Pond, got a clear lead and won. And soon after, I see the gray, Asi Siempre, also at long odds, cross the line second.

My heart skipped a beat as this was GOING TO BE THE BIG ONE. The exactas had been huge all day and here was another one. It was going to make my day.

Television covered the winner, Round Pond, and interviewed her trainer, Michael Matz, who was also the trainer of the injured Barbaro. The announcers referred to an Objection, meaning that one of the riders had claimed a foul. And the foul was against Asi Siempre, the second place horse on my ticket.

You know the rest of the story. The gray fillie had indeed crossed lanes, impeding Balleto, and the stewards moved her back to fourth and out of my exacta.

And I’m still 0 for the day.

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