One thing to keep in mind Derby week is that race horse handicappers are full of it, part of it being the ability to press on in the slow wake of lousy picks. There has never been a group of people as proficient as handicappers when it comes to forgetting that a key selection ran like Lassie.
Pickers are like refs and meteorologists: What bad call?
There should be one place where you can’t treat all mistakes like the yesterday’s fish scraps: picking.
There’s no suicide in horse race handicapping. But there should be a hint of accountability. If you don’t admit a mistake, what’s to learn?
Accountability works on a sliding scale. If you tout a favorite that has no trouble and runs poorly, you owe it to viewers and readers to show up on the town square in your underwear with only a Form in tow, ready to answer each and all handicapping questions. Pick a long shot and an “Oops” could suffice.
Here’s the point. Less than two weeks to the Derby, opinions are like the hail that fell on me and my car three nights ago, with mini-meteorite-like chunks the size of big league chaws of tobacco pelting my skull and keeping me from running the car into some shrubbery for protection: too many opinions can be harmful.
From now until the post, you’ll hear dozens of stories originating straight from the mouths of some trainers, whose knowledge of their horses has nothing to do with objective handicapping.
Derby week is also prime time for doomsday stories about the horse racing industry, about how wagering is down, about how nobody goes to the live races anymore, about how newer and younger fans are needed. Date night at the track, wouldn’t that be cute. Guess what. The last few years, most everything is down. Try to fill your gas tank. Here’s something that’s not sinking, slot machine profits going to tracks. Here’s something else that’s not down, purses at tracks receiving slot machine profits. And here’s why so few go to the live races: simulcast or remote betting. What percentage of horse race tracks have closed recently? Only Blue Ribbon Downs in the Oklahoma sticks a couple of years ago. Is that about it? Who wouldn’t want it to be years ago, the guys in fedoras at packed live racing grandstands, before casinos began taking shape almost overnight. Take into account the off-track action today, and you’d have the stands overflowing again. If the drugging of horses has become such a factor in the business, handicap it, find the crooks yourself. Today is speedier than used to be the case. And what are we doing with the extra time, playing slots? Here’s how they’re selling the latest smart phones: You can break up with your girl or boyfriend quicker than ever before. You can start a car from overseas. Unnecessary excess, get some, hurry, before it’s gone.
Already today I have heard that trendy horse Nehro can’t lose, that surgery agreed with The Factor, that this trainer told that trainer that the Florida Derby was a complete throw-out.
I’m one lucky picker. Last fall in this space, I hit the Superfecta it the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile, listing horses one through four in the precise order in which they finished, the payoff coming in at around $600. Anybody hitting a Super in print for a global audience gets a grace period on hitting another one. It doesn’t mean I won’t try next week. It does mean I have a very nice yeah-but.
From now to the Derby post, the horse player is apt to hear dozens of great-sounding theories, save for the fact that the ones putting forth the plans may have just run zero for 50.
Before works, gate draws and the weather, what’s to pick? I’ll make it a little easier on the person who can’t wait. Here’s who I like today. Nobody
Originally Posted on ESPN