You know how some fans and players have complained that when a guy competes in the Home Run Derby at Major League Baseball’s All-Star Break that it throws off his swing the rest of the season? Well, the story I’m going with is that the betting equivalent happened to me during the Degenerate Doubleheader. Now, I’m sure someone smarter than me has studied this for real, but the Home Run Derby slump excuse sure has an being apocryphal feel to me. Perhaps one dude somewhere along the line overdid it and hurt himself, but I can’t imagine that when viewed in aggregate, there’s any real negative correlation there. And I can pretty much guarantee that my excuse is total BS.
But the fact remains, that after winning during the SAR flat portion of that card, the pure pain began. Thursday night, Friday, Saturday (especially Saturday!!), and Sunday were all losing days. This was the only such stretch I’ve had this meet and some part of me wants to blame the unbearable lightness of betting at least $20 in 27 straight races for enforcing bad habits and getting me off my game
In all seriousness, the DGDH was a ton of fun. Objectively, last Thursday was probably the single worst SAR flat card of the meet. I certainly didn’t mind them only running 9 (including the Sticks Stake), but it seemed like short fields with heavy favorites in just about every race, as if they let Howard Battle back just for one day. I mean, when’s the last time you saw a SAR nightcap carded with only eight? Not to mention the seven horse field that scratched to four after three morning vet scratches. Where are we? Crow Fair? But my friend Brian Nadeau and I had fun and managed to land on the right chalks. We were in danger of getting mesothelioma, but we were up OK on the day.
The Harness track is kind of a surreal place. The tone was set by a man with a pony tail who noticed me – quite illegally – consuming a beer in the parking lot. “Oh, man, they let you bring your own here?” I explained that they didn’t and we got to chatting. I guess my 40th birthday came up. “Wait ‘til you hit 50,” he told me, “It’s great. The house is paid for. The wife is gone. And I just an award from the state for $182,000.” That pretty much set the tone.
We sat upstairs in Fortune’s restaurant and decided to sample their Vegas-style buffet. It wasn’t what you’d call a great meal, but it was a tremendous feed. As we ate our pea soup, caesar salad, vodka penne, prime rib, Teriyaki salmon, roasted potatoes and mixed vegetables, we decided to play the last five at Del Mar. We were flush at the time, and we didn’t call this the Degenerate Doubleheader for nothing. We probably spent about 90 seconds each handicapping each race and wouldn’t you know, we didn’t cash a ticket.
Then it was time for the jugheads. Harness racing is just strange to me. I can’t quite get my head around it, even though I can understand why so many great gamblers cut their teeth playing it. One of the things that really had me confused was how they announce 6 minutes to the next post pretty much right after the race before is official, but it seemed to me there were still at least another 6 minutes to the off AFTER the clock struck zero.
We tried to get clever a few times. Early on, a horse opened at odds-on. We looked at the Form and saw that he was a 7 time winner facing a field with 7 wins between them. We waited a few minutes and noticed that very little money had been bet on this certainty in the show pool. We split a $100 show bet. Right before the race, the pool started tilting. All of a sudden the odds on shot had blown out to 7/2. The thing ended up winning and paying $9. We thought we might get back $3 on our bet, $2.80 at the worst. It paid a measly $2.50. I didn’t check but our $100 might have tilted the pool. Positively undignified. And oh, it gets worse, that was the only ticket we’d cash throughout the whole card!
The lowlight was when we tabbed a 40-1 shot speed horse on form as having a chance to hold on for second to a favorite we liked. You can guess the rest. The longshot ran great. Only problem was he forgot to stop. Our favorite ran second. No exacta box, no win saver. We went to the bar and had another beer. What else could we do?
There was a point in the night where stamina came into play. Bleary eyed and asses dragging, we actually had to force ourselves to continue to bet. I switched from beer to whiskey, thinking that might help. It didn’t. A couple more seconds, a bet on a heavy favorite who broke stride right at the off, and finally it was time to go home. I love the Degenerate Doubleheader, but man am I glad we only do it once a year.
Race 3: $100 to win on #3 ARCHWARRIOR
If you can’t find it, grind it. I’m going for the free square today, so sue me. Few horses have arrived for their debut race with as much hype as this guy. I mean, he’s got his own fake Twitter feed for goodness sake! Look how well all the Pletcher babies have run this meet. This is supposed to be the best one. I’ll take my 10 cents on the dollar and get back to the business of trying to get out tomorrow. Oh, we also get #3X TIZRACER in case something goes wrong.
RESULTS: No play yesterday so still down $493.75.