As the plane glided over the beautiful mountains, I noticed the energy level inside the plane grew by 200%. If you were tired or sleepy eyed, once the strip came into focus everyone started unbuckling their seats. I know this to be true as I was one of the first. People began whispering and some laughing as plans were being made. As the plane touched the ground you felt your holy pilgrimage was ready to begin.
My gal is a player. Slots, video poker, and anything you can wager. She took me along as her guest, valet, masseuse, and all-around betting partner. We entered our room and I started hanging up my clothes, she tossed her luggage in a corner. “I ‘ll come down to the race book in a couple of hours, and we’ll grab some lunch.” No sweeter words could ever be spoken. I had my data in hand with a bevy of football and basketball bets. This was going to be a small wagering weekend and I better turn a profit to stay alive. I once read that gamblers hell is being in a casino with no money. I didn’t even want to think about this , and after securing my seats for the weekend I was ready. In the words of Fast Eddie Feltson from The Hustler; “Money won is twice as sweet as money won.”
Oaklawn Park was my ticket for the day, and Winning Ponies served me up two-to-back solid scores in races 5 and 6. In race #5 I nailed the top tier runner #5 Sportbook, as he paid $9.40 and $5.20 to place. Race #6 sealed my day by boxing the top three tier selections, and betting the 2nd selection to win and place because he had a sweet price. I caught #6 – Yucca who paid $25.40 and $9.80. Add in a $2 exacta that paid $131.20 and the day was a going to be a winner. The day was winding down and just remembering to eat was the hardest part of the day. I met some neat everyday players, and we traded stories and talked horses. The average age of the racing side of the book was 60 +, and I felt like a kid. There was a good fella from New York who sat right next to me as he spun stories of the “Big A, Big Sandy, and Saratoga.” I could have listened to the tales for years talking bookies, OTB’s, and how he started betting when he was 5-years-old pitching pennies. I told him about a neat site to visit and he started laughing. I was a insulted at first, but after a little more talk I had a different view.
Carl ventured out to California after his time in Vietnam. His parents had passed away, and he wanted to start clean and enjoy the sunshine. His job was not on the front line, as he worked on the communications and data transfer systems. In brief, he was a techno-nerd before the word was invented. He retire in the 80’s when the techno ride was still hot, and was set to live a comfortable life doing what he loved. He told me he was injured in the war when his jeep hit a mine. He was on his way to HQ to help a high ranking ass fix a radio unit. “Nerve damage. Not a blemish on this pretty face, but massive nerve damage. Kids were not going to be in the plans, and he’s been a bachelor all of his life.” Why were you laughing, Carl? I was trying to show you a neat site for grabbing solid info. – He pulled back his overnight sheets, and had five races printed down. They were the Winning Ponies E-Z Win Forms. “I’ve been spot playing with these for years! I like to read the stories and have even caught the Internet Show.” I smiled and told him I was part of the team, and some of the racing stories come from my keyboard. He laughed and couldn’t believe it. “I love reading about the old time days, and what it was once like going to the track. It takes me back to Aqueduct and some of my biggest scores.” We talked horses, life and everything in between. Carl signaled the waitress, and said ” I’ll have lunch now.” She knew his order, and it was the same thing everyday. “How about a bite, Ed? This stuff makes winners happen!” I regretfully passed as we had a dinner reservation in an hour and it had been hours since I had a candy bar for breakfast. “Thanks, Carl. I’ll have to take a rain-check for tomorrow.” – ” I’m leaving in the morning, but I’ll be back next week. Will you be in town?” – “Naaah, just a short jaunt this time, but I’ll be in action next time around as I plan to come back and play in the Horse Player World Series. I’ll be sure to stop by for an evening of wagering if you’ll stand my company. Anytime, Ed. Here is my card, and just call or email me. I’ll be here if the good Lord is willing!”
Day two was hit and miss, and finally I cashed a day maker. Gulfstream made my day, and I can recall the three races that took me to the promise land. – Race#2 – #10 Chica Chipina was top tier selection, and scored to pay $15.00 to win and $6.40 to place. – Race #8, I boxed the top three tier selections in an exacta box. They rolled in 1-2-3, and it paid $186.60. I should have bet the trifecta as it only paid $267.70 for $1 ticket. Then as I was getting ready to meet my gal at the poker slots, the waitress brought me a nice lunch served on a large tray. “I didn’t order anything little lady. – No worries, Carl said to bring you the lunch of champions.” As I was enjoying my steak sandwich and fries, I thought about making a bet to have a little action. In Race #11, I bet the top tier selection without getting into the race. Lunch was good, and it was a little bet to have some action. The runner was #13 Caicos Express, and he scored to pay a smoking $64.60 to win and $$27.00 to place. You could call that the walk off homer to end the day. I left my server a nice tip, and emailed Carl a thank you note immediately. I made a nice bet on the Packer’s plus the points, and a bigger bet on the Patriots. If they won, my friend was coming out next week to play in the NTRA / DRF Handicapping Championship, and he always stays at the Bellagio. I called him this morning, and he’ll be glad to cash my bets. I guess you could call the trip a success, and I met a pretty interesting fella. We hit it off, and betting with a friend makes the trip better. Oh, that trip to the poker slots cost me most of my winnings as she was not doing too well. I guess it could have been worse, and I can’t wait to play in the contest next year. I’ve always done pretty well, and it’s time to toss my hat back in the ring. Thanks to Winning Ponies for helping me find a few key scores, and to my new friend Carl for his hospitality. I hope when he reads this he’ll be cashing some bets and looking forward to meeting up with his Kentucky friend next year.