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Charity wins photo

Not long ago, a hundred bucks arrived in the mail.

The money was wrapped in a piece of paper and came with a note, thanking me for winning 1-2 picks on the Breeders' Cup Sprint race, which was held some months back on Lake Monmouth. In that race, a deep closer dodged mud pies and defeated wild speed that held on and slid in second.

This, of course, will never do.

First, a present, or a reward, based on a tout, suggests that public pickers know more than the average rascal. The truth is, I know exactly what you know, and pretty much the same as what people who sell tips for a living know. It's how you apply the common knowledge that separates luck-offs from the field. I would guess that "inside information" of any kind accounts for less success than winning after being given the wrong numbers on a ticket. The best inside information is inside your head. Some races simply fit a handicapper's eye. Hitting a race can be like correctly guessing curve ball with you at bat against Josh Beckett, the count being three balls and one strike. Sometimes you think: Remember that sprint in the soup at Evangeline when the one $5,000 streaker had enough cheap speed to water-slide the last eighth of a mile and hold for second? This race looks like that race.

Next, concerning the envelope that came out of nowhere: If handicappers take good, or lucky picks too seriously, then bad, or hideous picks are apt to carry too much importance, as well. And if there's anything to which a picker would enjoy applying the silent treatment, it's a lousy loss. Public pickers want to treat dark days like a TV meteorologist: Drought? What drought? A decent pick is one that makes some sense before the race. After the race, many picks seem to have been meant for entertainment purposes only. Outside of hustler pickers who charge money for air, most picks are designed for $2 bets.

Picks shouldn't cause love or hate, presents or enquiries about reimbursement.

So what is a lucky picker to do with a hundred bucks?

The choices are:

Bet it.

Blow it.

Bank it.

Several days after the envelope arrived, I went to the races and lost $105. A couple of the losses were of the embarrassing variety.

The question that came immediately to mind was: Whose lost hundred was that, anyway, mine, or was it the hundred that had come in the post?

Being sentimental and superstitious when it comes to wagering, I have decided that the hundred lost at the races the other day was mine.

What I did with the hundred bucks mailed in could be seen on a future Hallmark Hall of Fame. I gave it to help feed the homeless.

Write to Jay at jaycronley@yahoo.com