- Horse Racing - So much for the experts

Jay Cronley
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Thursday, April 8
So much for the experts

Guess what, you've been walking around in a pretty good mood without even knowing it.

This has to be your favorite time of the year, Kentucky Derby season, that magical time at Churchill when guys act like they haven't inherited their loot and the gals act like they're comfortable being that skinny.

Where else but around the Kentucky Derby could the average customer know as much if not more than the experts, the professional handicappers.

I know more than the experts in only a few fields.

One is the weather. Give me five minutes alone with the Doppler and a barometer and I could confidently go on the air before the local sports on any channel in Dallas.

Another field where I know more than the so-called experts is team sports wagering. Here's a gift from me to you of the secret of successful team sports gambling: Don't bet the obvious.

There is a popular misconception among gambling knuckleheads that the omnipotent bookmaker or sports book has refined the process so that most games are 50-50 propositions, with the house making its money off the commissions from losing bets.

Do you think Ucon minus 2 versus Duke was a 50-50 situation in the recently completed NCAA basketball tournament?

I would say no. My guess is people were looking under the seats of their Range Rovers for money to bet on Ucon minus 2. Or do the 2004-5 Range Rovers have little gizmos that automatically collect and sort loose change so that it can be neatly handed over to the poor people?

I know people who bet money they didn't have on Ucon minus 2.

In my crowd, I know of one person who bet a whole fifty bucks on Duke plus 2.


And as time expired, and as a queasy hush settled over America, and as bookmakers came out of their chairs and began dancing as fast as their cardiovascular systems would permit, the Duke guy air-mailed one in from the zone, the Twilight Zone, to leave Ucon the victor by a single point.

People who take bets don't advertise their success. It would probably cause some customers to quit making bets. But the Ucon-Duke basketball game was probably booked 60-40 Connecticut.

How can you tell when one side of a bet is too obvious?

You don't need an extra sense.

It's when all the chumps can't get enough of something.

Horse racing has become like golf in a way. There are two seasons, the majors, and the rest of it, the Kentucky Derby being the equivalent of the Masters.

The Derby is so important, and the training for it so fierce, it has almost become a season unto itself. Given the strain of this rush to judgment on a young horse, it wouldn't be surprising to see a Derby winner catch a ride to the breeding shed and call it a career after the one big win.

There can't be a tougher bet than the Kentucky Derby.

And I'm going to give you the Exacta weeks early.


Looking at the Derby is not so much handicapping as it is guessing. It's like an exciting Lottery, bet two bucks and play your number of ex-spouses and win a bunch.

What's not to like about 100-year-old owners, statuesque wives of jockeys, trainers who think they're John Wayne.

What's not to like about experts looking confused.


Starting now and running through late afternoon May 1, you're as sharp as the best pros that horse racing has to offer.

You'll have your work cut out beating me, however, as I plan to box the four highest priced horses in the Derby, for openers.

Write to Jay at


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