Some days, you can’t think straight, or in any other direction.
Some days, you take worries to the horse races, you go there to get away from idiots and responsibilities. Some days, you have ten minutes to handicap a ten-horse toss-up. Sometimes you have $33, period.
Everybody needs a leg up occasionally, a hand, a good mind: Help.
When you’re looking for a car, you check with Carfax or Consumer’s Digest. When you’re thinking about a companion, check the bloodline. When you’re thinking about anything else, there’s the Better Business Bureau.
When you need somebody to help you with a horse race, how do you pick a picker?
Here’s a checklist of some things to think about when it comes to leaning on a handicapper.
With the best-known handicappers, it’s always something beyond a rotten pick when a horse runs fifth, a bad ride, usually.
After Ice Box closed fast to finish on the same side of the track with the winner at the Belmont, those picking this horse to win had excuses ranging from equipment failure to riding miscalculation. Mainly the selection of a deep closer to run at, and pass, average fractions at a mile and a half, was a fundamental handicapping error.
The only thing wrong with making a lousy pick now and again is a reluctance to stand up to the mistake. Bad picks are more obvious than bad rides. If a handicapper won’t admit to having been dumb, he or she is apt to be that again.
Picking winners and losers is a streaky proposition.
Many of the more famous handicappers have successes rooted deep in the past, the time he or she went in with 17 others and hit the $450,000 Pick Six at where ever. Hindsight behind the last few big races isn’t worth much. A handicapper going through an extreme, hot or icy, makes for a good partner now and again.
Listen to somebody who takes a shot at a price now and again and is in the race.
In the time we have been getting together here for thoughts about horse racing and the like, the development of which I am most proud is the absence of “value” handicapping from most national discussions.
“Value” handicapping is similar to having somebody grab your ankles and lower you into a huge garbage bin in search of erroneously discarded winning tickets, down amongst the chili dog leftovers.
“Value” handicapping is where a person who is getting pounded says the best horse is not going to pay enough to get me out of this dreadful hole, so what I am going to do is play some below average 15-1 shot and hope the rest of them get tangled up so I can get close to even.
Pick winners, not prices.
Sometimes higher odds should put you on a horse, not chase you off, because prices are set by that guy over there behind the beer bottles.
If you can’t separate two or three horses, bet more, or watch the race for its aesthetic values.
The best pick I have made in a week or so was a 25-1 horse that ran third.
So I lost. I was close, which might turn into money next time.
Pickers who are almost right with price horses are to be considered.
Free is best
Pay for a pick only if you get a partial rebate on losers.
Get the picker’s pledge
That is to play what you tout.
There’s a local sports talk radio buffoon who gave a Super Bowl winner pick, and an over-under pick, both of which lost in uncontested fashion. This guy comes on the day after to say that he actually had a pretty good Super Bowl, hitting a few proposition bets, like the coin flip and who got the first holding penalty, skillful handicapping elements like that.
Saying you won behind closed doors is garbage.
Go against TV pickers
It’s nothing personal. TV pressure tends to locks up a handicapper.
When you print a pick, you can say Drosselmeyer is the key to the tri box and remain as cool as the other side of a cucumber. When you’re on TV, you’re like Albert Brooks in “Broadcast News,” you’re swimming in worry, you find yourself leaning farther and farther to the right until you’re all over the 6-5 favorite, as written picks on a 25-1 shot won’t wind up on YouTube, the way something visual might.
In the history of great jockeys doing great color TV horse race analysis, has one ever hit a pick?
Originally Posted on ESPN
By Jay Cronley