Handicappers are tested from time-to-time. It may come in a bevy of getting beat in a photo, or not finding your horse with a search warrant. Either way, you’ll find that deeper meaning of the game, or you will grab your golf clubs and head out to the links. I once heard the secret to being a good horse player is having a short memory. We can recount with vivid detail the big wins and how we cashed the monster score. There may be some problems bringing back to life the bad beats that still linger in our thoughts. For me, this was an easy task. It was a rare event that was almost catastrophic, and the other was just a bad mojo that hangs in the air. So, sit back and grab a hot beverage on this pre-winter day and see if your remember these back-to-back bad luck events for yours truly.
The place was beautiful Arlington Park. Located in pristine Arlington Heights, Illinois. I had a great place to stay, and the hotel overlooked the track. Things couldn’t have been better. Now, this is going to be rare, but just humor me, and we’ll dismiss the bragging later. I’m breaking my rule of “talking crapola” about winners. – I arrived late the day before, and caught the last five races. I went 5/5 and won about $500. A good start, and I was off to the races. Dinner was at the OTB, and I was betting Mountaineer. With the racing gods smiling down, I won another $200 and covered dinner. Long story short, this was the year I was gambling for a living. I had left my longtime job, and cashed in my 401-k. ( I know, bad move on any planet.) I has the blessing of my better half, and off to the races I went. I charted, and watched replays constantly. I kept my tracks to New York, Kentucky and Arlington Park. Things started off slow for my venture, but then it began to take off. I had a list of horses to watch and made about 2-3 bets per week. Mostly heavy place wagers, and some mixed in with win bets as well. The big day came about and I love turf racing. I couldn’t wait as the weather was perfect, and I was smiling from ear-to-ear. As I walked in, Saratoga was getting ready to run. I hadn’t planned on making one off-track bet until I looked up and saw my number one New York horse was warming up on a sloppy track. My deal to bet Arlington Park had faded a bit and I decided on ONE bet away from AP. I made a $200 win wager on a (6-1) shot, and went to watch the race. He won by 6 lengths, and I was $1,400 up from my first race. The day was getting hotter, and every race I was hitting little scores. I had my eyes peeled for a runner in the Arlington Million with my favorite jockey aboard. I could wait, and all of the money I was winning was going to be used in pick-fours, pick-threes, trifectas, and big win and place money. Well, the good luck continued all day, and I had my winnings in one pocket and my initial bankroll in the other. My runner was (9-2) on his way to the gate, and I had more confidence than ever before. Just like “Let it Ride,” This was a very good day. As I watched the race unfold, and the outcome. To this day I cannot believe what transpired. Take a look for yourself and watch my TOUGHEST best in my life.
I was a loss for words, and #4 with Gary Stevens in the irons was hurt badly. I couldn’t see the final finish until they put it on the jumbotron. I’m glad the “iron man” Stevens came back after a lengthy injury, but it still hurts to this day. – For me, I licked my wounds and bounced back to make a large win bet on a runner by the name of Kitten’s Joy. I made money overall, but what a long strange trip it was. For the record, I’m glad Gary made his comeback, and there would be plenty of other chances for this handicapper.
The site was Arlington Park, and the scene was exactly the same. I was winning pretty good all day, and I fell in love with a runner in the Million ridden by a young gun named Jamie Spencer. The name of the runner was Powerscourt. There was another heap load on the line, and you be the judge for the 2004 Arlington Million. Be sure to fast forward to 16.44.
Bad beats and big wins and the ones that got away. I still bet the Arlington Million, but I have “barred” myself from returning to the scene of two bad beats in consecutive years. No matter the outcome, real horse players love the game. It took the wind from my sails, but I survived. I have had plenty of nice days, but those back-to-back years would have made my professional wagering venture a little sweeter. I have a rule that racing does not allow for crying, whining, or bitching. This is my ONE exception and now I’m back in order. No matter what your bankroll is doing, there are other days. I have since healed, and every time the big race comes around. I think back to my visits to sweet home Chicago.