Hitting .750

My nomination for the ugliest loss of the week is as follows.

I put together a superior Pick Four ticket comprised of one short-priced single, and ten or so other horse ranging in odds from 5-2 to 20-1. Morning line odds at some joints seem to have been put out by a short order cook on a smoke break and mean next to nothing.

I hit the first race with a 7-2 horse that served as a perfect example of why multiple-win bets are more to the point of good handicapping than are multiple-loss bets like exactas, trifectas and the Keeno of horse race wagering, superfectas. It's easier to pick winners than losers, unless you're into numerology. Who isn't once in a while? But looking for winners is more reaffirming than wondering: I wonder who might stumble across third.

A horse that couldn't run second ran second to the 7-2 winner, one I couldn't have found using your money.

The second race featured my single winning a cheap race on an off track, never an easy deal. The klutz money came in late and sent the dream weaver off at 1-1. Imagine having a c-note on a horse that had no earthly idea what went on in the winner's circle. Thanks anyhow. But singling a horse whose worst Beyer was just about good enough to defeat the rest of the farm animals? There's the great "value" in a 1-1 runner: doubles, and pick-a-few-winners in exotics.

Winning singles on pick four tickets, short prices no matter, can be very "valuable."

The third race in the Pick Four sequence was beautiful in each and every way except for one. The track announcer thought he was a comedian auditioning for a network talk show. The truth was, he should have been on the sidewalk in front of some Komedy Klub at a strip shopping mall in the sticks. He was hideous and was prone toward saying things like: Bum's Rush is so far back he seems to be looking for four-leaf clovers instead of running. Only he never said anything close to that interesting. He said stuff like: "Bum's Rush is back there twiddling his hoofs." And by the time he had located and read his joke off a note card, the rest of the field had run a quarter of the way on around.

Announce the race, okay?

Try the jokes during the trot-back.

My best chance for a fat Pick Four payoff here was a horse that had been 4-1 last out against one that had run much better in the same race and was now the favorite.

The horse that had been 4-1 had run flat.


Here, it was around 10-1.

These were decent turf horses. If it had legitimately figured before, why not now?

Everybody has quiet days.

Except the track announcer, whose joke about my horse being so far back after the break was something like he's on a treadmill back there, reading the funny pages.

Yeah, well: As is often the case when there is contested speed in a turf race of any distance, there is fancy closing to be had.

My fat pick four play went about as wide as was possible, making up who knows how many lengths, a bazillion-gazillion the announcer might have said.

We caught the leader at the wire, setting off the Photo light, and producing an outburst of announcing that sounder better fit for roller derby.

We won and paid around $20, setting up a Pick Four win of meaningful proportions.

In race four, another turf encounter at a mile, I had three of the nine runners at odds of around 2-1, 4-1, 6-1. Three other runners had modest turf credentials. Of the remaining trio, two didn't appear capable of outrunning a snake in the grass. The least likely horse in the race had but three sprint races on the dirt, with quitting tendencies readily apparent. So I took $100 and put the three with modest grass success on top in "insurance" or "saver" exactas. Each of the three late bets featured horses with odds of more than 10-1.

So here's what happened.

The locally bred horse with no grass experience, with no bloodlines to speak of, with little or no hope, shot from the one-hole at 20-1 and found itself out there by itself like a pace car. A nice European grass horse seemed to be the only one to realize that a loose local on the front end could be a recipe for a pot luck payoff and tried to stay up, but couldn't.

A sprinter stretching out to a mile is worth at least a glance on any surface, particularly amongst the cheapies. But first time grass, first time versus proven grass winners, first time longest shot on the board, come on, it had to quit.

The other horses in the field broke routinely and seemed to find the grass soft, like peat, the footing heavy and slow.

The race seemed to last ten minutes.

The announcer couldn't think of, or find among his color-coded note cards, a joke to fit the occasion of a local nobody stealing the victory. So the finish was called in semi-hysterical fashion, though how any could scream across a ten-length winner takes some getting used to, particularly if you had the ones than finished 2, 3 and 4.

When the only one that can't win wins, when the only one that can beat you beats you, when the one you didn't cover covers, clearly it's the announcer's fault.

Write to Jay at jaycronley@yahoo.com.