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Jay Cronley
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Friday, November 19
Horse racing through the ages




No offense, but I wouldn't mind seeing a defibrillator next to the fire extinguisher at the horse races.

The age of the average patron at the horse race simulcast venue seems to be going up markedly right before our eyes.

That's because people are living longer with good money.

Which would you rather do, climb into the Winnebago and try to find Sedona, or sit comfortably while sipping a beer and try to win a fortune on the Pick Six?

Visit the grandkids again, or the horse races?

The Love Boat, or the horse races?

New hobby, or the horse races?

It's no contest, two dollars on anybody please.

Somebody a sprightly 60 years of age at the simulcast venue is the one who runs a late bet to the window.

Horse races can be almost too exciting. On one recent afternoon, I sat next to a nice-looking man of 80-some years who had a live Pick Three ticket with two double-figure winners already in the fold. He had four chances in the third race. All the tickets would pay nice prices. One was through the roof. One was almost to a planet.

Before the payoff race, he said he was not breathing as easily as was normally the case.

His color had paled somewhat. His forehead appeared damp.

How was his pulse?

He said it was pretty quick.

I said how about this. He could stretch his legs. Take a brief stroll outside the building. Have some calmer air. I would watch the race for him and bring the news just beyond the front door in an orderly fashion. Then he could come back and watch the replay.

Nobody wants a big horse win to go a clinic; or worse.

He said no, he was fine.

One horse broke clear by a bunch.

He didn't have it.

But at least there was no suspense to worry about.

When is the best time to introduce a new player to horse racing?

A couple of weeks ago, I took the just-legal son of a friend of mine to the track. Though he was new to thoroughbred racing, he was something of a veteran poker player, specializing in Texas Hold 'Em, a game that requires a knack for probabilities, colored glasses so nobody can see the fear, and legally blind luck: There's around a six percent chance a ten is still in the deck, now come on Lord, bring it to me!

Texas Hold' Em is the new stock market or the new pornography -- internet card houses are full of college kids.

What's the average age in a poker table in a casino, 25?

The young man new to horse racing found favor with the losers paying the winners, same as cards. But he missed bluffing.

It was one of those nights. We began by losing the Double in a photo. The finish was so tight, the picture looked like a slightly blurred image of a single animal. We bet middle-of-the-road prices to place and long shots to show and they missed by one spot on each occasion. The worst of it was Trifecta where we had the first two finishers. But the jockey on our third choice appeared to wake up and find himself on a horse running along the back side. We ran fifth in that one.

My friend's son lost $40 on my picks. I reimbursed him, surely gaining our sport a fan. Write to Jay at jaycronley@go.com




 




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