As the winds of autumn slowly change into the blustery howls of winter there is a storm a brewing. Let me rejoice the end of one chapter and relish another. – The seasonal changes are a barometer of what we can expect, and as a gambler it is a time of introspective reflection. As I listen to the words of the Leonard Cohen in the background, it reminds me of what once was; and what we have to cherish now that it’s gone. – These times are necessary for a person taking stock and inventory. We would have no gauge of how we’re doing or where we’ll go next without these self-imposed moments of time out.
As Breeders’ Cup comes to an end and the stories fill the void of the building excitement. – I put so much time into the big weekend that I go into a cocoon-like state and rest my thoughts. – I still follow the races and take copious notes on how runners are doing. I find it is during this time my horses to watch seem to do better and my time on the sidelines does me more good than I know. At first I’m glad to catch my breath, and in two weeks, I’ll be ready to move on to the next chapter which is the cyclical nature of our sport.
If you enjoy making a wager or relish the cerebral process of handicapping, take the down time to adjust your sails. – “You can’t change the winds, but you can adjust your sails to change your course.”
Long ago there was downtime. In between race meets and before the simulcast era, there was a quiet time. No races unless you made a long drive, and you couldn’t wager unless you had a bookie or a “guy” to take your bet. Gamblers could rebuild their bankrolls, fans would wait with baited breath, and the travelling show of Thoroughbred racing would pull into town and pitch their tent for a period of time. – When I was young, this time was like being shoved into solitary confinement. As I aged and my love of racing grew. I used to enjoy this time away. – My grandpa would tinker in his garage and pick up a small plumbing job late in his 70’s. My Dad would paint a house or two as he called this his therapy. – I didn’t catch the drift and was pretty sure they were crazy. But after looking back, this was the secret of finding that second wind. – The quiet before the storm is a time of reflection and planning, and one would switch to the other only when you’re ready.
As a young man, I would make my way into the high school library to read the newspaper. I’m not even sure if they have the dirty ink papers anymore, as students now peruse on computer screens. – Most would read the sports pages, and I had a well-timed visit locked in my noggin when there was a time-out of sorts called study hall. Reading was always encouraged, and my trips to the library would allow me to visit Aqueduct, Santa Anita, Churchill Downs, and follow the daily goings on in the sport of kings. – One must regroup and renew, and it is a quality that is lost with the over-saturation of constant information. For me, it was a time travel to places far away; reading about places that I would visit one day. – Bettors are blessed with a sense of amnesia of sorts where we forget about the past and focus on the future.
Horse players can tell you what time of year it is by which tracks are running. – I often wonder if that still applies today as bettors don’t have the downtime to regroup and renew. – The game has changed and the ability to enjoy the sport can be seen seven days a week almost year round. – For some, maybe the constant contact is their time to reflect on the move. But, I’m from the last graduating class of the old school. Patience is not a punishment, but rather a luxury. I still enjoy a little time away and for some reason unbeknownst to me I come back with a renewed love. Kinda’ like the old saying of absence makes the heart grow fonder. – During my down time I find myself relating to the words of Cohen; “My friends are gone and my hair is grey, and my body hurts where I used to play.”
As I read more about upcoming meets and what circuits will be up next. I find this down time is getting shorter in some years, and others have me on the bench a bit longer. – Is this my therapy of sorts ? – Either way there is no easy answer, but one thing is for sure, this handicapper is getting ready earlier. Maybe I found what I was lacking, or maybe it was there all along and just a brief time-out allowed me to re-focus. Either way, I’m getting ready. I find myself looking at the entries and results. The time spent watching races is not a job, but a labor of love. Yeah, it’s fair to say I’m ready to get back in the game. The brief time away has made my heart grow fonder and I can’t wait until the horses take the track. I’m even contemplating a trip to Churchill Downs. – These are the signs that I look for. – As I prepare to work at Turfway Park this meet, the idea of handicapping has me excited. It’s the same feeling I had walking into the high school library. Win or lose, good or bad. I’m ready and it didn’t take as long as I initially thought. – My therapy must have worked, or maybe I wasn’t as off course as a well traveled vessel out to sea. – I find myself getting up earlier and diving into the information. That is the first step of the next chapter. You’ll want to stay tuned as I’m ready to go on a roll. You’ll start seeing my horses to watch, free selections, and introspective writings about the process.