I always tease my pal Pete Aiello about “Cowboy Bets.” Some folks call them barn bets, and others just refer to them as trainers who like their runners. I still call them Cowboy Bets.
Whenever I have walked on the back of the many tracks I have worked, it always seems in the kitchen or the racing office that there can be these 10-gallon hats and wrangler jean commercials going on. I have told him that some are just wanna be “Cowboys.” Some are tried and true, and this is how they dress. Some just play the role and look like “Cow-Pokes.”
I even have a name for the gals who strut wearing skin tight wranglers who speak with the southern drawl… I call them ” Little Cow-Girls” as they are playing with mom and dad’s money, their husbands wallet, or have some sugar daddy…. They can’t train worth a lick, but they always walk the walk looking like they know the game, the condition book stuffed in their back pockets, and looking to play the role…
Either way, I always kid Pete about the “Cowboy Plays”, where a trainer thinks they have a good shot. He is an expert handicapper, and he knows who is running to run, and who really belongs in the race. Sometimes after you work in the office for years, you get the respect from some trainers who talk to you about their charges.
Before Pete goes up to call races daily, he stops by my office and we talk horses. We go over the card, and who belongs and who doesn’t fit in any race. I always ask him if he has any “Cowboy” plays, and he always says “no.” But, he does have Pete plays…. In the world of cheap claimers, he says it is an art to reading the condition book. You need to comb through the conditions tight, and see who is filling a race, or who really is a contender. I have found this to be a real helpful tool in handicapping.
I was on TV the other day, when Pete called and left me a message about how he liked how I dug in and found this runner at double-digit odds that fit exactly. This was no Cowboy play, and he said that was a great observation….
I guess I had found myself on the Cowboy trail, and finding this was a nugget of gold…. I guess I will always kid him and call him “Cowboy, ” but in reality, I have the utmost respect for his ability to read deeply into the conditions. Just when you think you know what you are reading, take another look. You will miss something, and wonder how that 10-1 shot just scored. Then you go back and see it plain as day…
I will always get a kick out of the well-heeled wannabees who act like they know the game. But there are folks back there that can light up the board by having a distinctive edge on reading the book front to back. This is how they make their living, and never a Cowboy will they be…. They are trainers, and damn good at what they do….