When in Doubt…

My mother used to tell me as a young boy, “when in doubt do nothing at all.”  This may be all and good, but what did it really mean? It has taken many years, and some long walks to the car, but I think I finally figured out what she was saying.

For me, playing the races is a part of who I am. Long ago, I can remember standing in the school library reading the race results. My pals would scan the sports page, but I went directly to the racing section. I would chat with a few teachers who enjoyed the ponies, and they would ask me who I liked. As far back as I can recall, racing has always been on my mind.

I grew up going with my dad going to the local bar, as he would head to the back room to read the DRF. The room was smoke filled, and it was men only. Now that’s not to say the “bookie” would not take a bet from a lady at the bar, but the back room was a man’s place. Men from all walks would be getting their bets down. There was very little talk, and nobody really came to gab and drink.

Back then you would make a bet at California and you would not get the results for a day or two… There were no computers or tech-savvy devices. It was a dirty paper that held your fortune, and it was up to you find the pot of gold. Simulcast racing was about 15-years away, and the only time you would be wagering on more than a race or two is when you would go to the track. I guess there was some wisdom in the innocence of the time.

Early on I wanted to play as many races as I could. When I graduated college, my dad asked me if I wanted a school ring, or head out to Vegas with he and his wife. Well, there is no ring on my finger, and I am sure you can guess the rest. We played at the Imperial Palace, and it was non-stop action from 11a.m. – midnight. I thought I had gone to heaven getting to play every track in the country. I called it “tap dancing” as we would bounce from race to race glancing over data and running to the windows. At the end of the day you felt as if you were in a marathon, and you couldn’t wait to sleep to get up and do it again.

When I began working in racing, I would see some players who would sit all day to play a race or two. At the time, I thought they were silly for sitting there. But after many years of reflection, they had the answer all along. To have the discipline of waiting for your races, and enjoying a day in the sun makes sense now. I once would have thought of it as a punishment or something I did when funds were low. But now, I have dropped back a bit and focus on one or two tracks. This has allowed me to stay in the game longer, and my odds have gotten better. I watch the replays and make notes for horses I want to bet the next time out. I stay away from the smaller ovals now, and I only play tracks I am familiar. I stay up on track bias, and weather conditions for the upcoming week. No matter how good you are if you keep getting in the batter’s box, your average will drop. I guess mom was right after all… If you have no real opinion on a track you normally don’t play, or just want to get in for the action, do nothing at all…