Seeing the light

Today in the place where I live, people are leaning out head-first and looking up to see if it has really quit shooting ice at us. So that's what the sun looks like. Then they're putting on t-shirts and squeezing into shorts and wondering why they didn't find the time to do a few hundred thousand more sit-ups. So that's where the dozen winter pizzas settled. Visions of lawns without weeds and roses without black spots on their leaves are dancing on their home improvement center charge cards. Close your eyes. Imagine that bare dirt pushing up daisies. Where I live it's going to be 70 degrees today.

This is Kentucky Derby weather. Finally: It's hard to focus with people in parkas leading the horses to the gate.

Very little in horse racing is guaranteed.

Here's a Kentucky Derby 2014 tip list that is full of sure things.

1. Listen
See what everybody has to say, bums to television experts. You can never tell when a Dumpster diver is rooting around lucky without even knowing it. And those TV experts, they're in close with trainers. They get tips and inside information that the average handicapper can't reach. And there's nothing a trainer would enjoy more than to have his or her advice passed along to dozens of millions of gamblers. How could others not know a lot more than you know? Plenty of entry and exit-level celebrities make picks for the Derby. They have expertise in horses with funny names. And every reputable horse race publication and website has top contender lists and will have Derby picks. And check out the responders to horse race articles on the Internet. Anonymous responders change nicknames after every losing opinion. Sometimes there's a mystical element to a horse race. Sometimes the most deserving horse player seems about ready to win. Ask everybody who they like. Don't worry about sensory overload, no handicapper's head has ever exploded because he or she heard too many picks.

2. Look to numbers and closers
There's less trouble at the back of the field. Let the others knock themselves out at the break. The late runners settle to the rail, save ground, and come flying at the end. Find something that has been closing hard at a mile and a sixteenth and then watch what happens at a mile and a quarter. It's math, right? Formulaic? If you close well at a mile or so, then at a longer distance, you should blow them off the track. Here's the ideal wagering situation: a late runner with the highest Beyer. Forget a history of running against short fields. You're going to pass them all, it doesn't matter if there are three looking for air at the rail, or 13. You can't have too many facts and figures going into a Triple Crown race. True, dosage information doesn't factor luck into the equation of a 20-horse field. But having stamina two back on the mother's side should help you sleep better the night before.

3. Go for value
Has there ever been a more universal handicapping connection than the quest for value? According to our figures, only one or two people who handicap for public consumption completely omit the value factor in their pre-race analysis. A select few look for winners first, not odds. Simply put, handicapping for value puts an emphasis on price, not necessarily quality. It lets the public, not the past performances, put you on a horse. Handicapping for value operates on the premise that a 100 percent return on investment is an insult to the needs of the average horse player. Moreover, a 200 percent return on investment is often considered beneath contempt. Even though value handicapping often overlooks the fact that a 1-1 horse that wins by ten often keys a gigantic pick 3, 4 or 6 ticket, the doggy 15-1 horse has value written all over it and would pay you all the money you need to get through the weekend. True, sometimes a value pick sounds desperate and is usually made by somebody behind at the windows. Truer still, crazier things have happened. Truest of it all, there's usually always tomorrow. Has a value tout ever won a race? We'll research that. So have another drink. Forget biases. Throw in the Tampa winner. Exclude the average works. Maybe that 17-1 obvious bargain will rescue you.

Compiled here are almost guaranteed ways to lose.

Take what's left and begin the search for the winner.