Where there's luck, there's superstition.
Trying to preserve a successful condition is standard fare when cash is involved. A player (athletically or mentally) might not shave or change clothes during a winning streak.
Nurturing a superstition is a real part of horse handicapping, because gambling is 110 percent mental, the rest, getting plenty of vegetables, exercise and sleep. Something doesn't have to be real, in a touchable sense, to mess up a horse handicapper. Good luck is 110 percent perception, the rest, divine.
Superstitious plays are frequently misused or abused -- a powerful superstitious play should be used like an immunity token and held in reserve for years.
My luckiest moment in horse racing was when I hit a cold $10 trifecta in a race where there seemed to be photos required for all places in the race, one through 10. Once the pictures had been held up to the light and the winners announced, I was the only one near the rail to keep his head up. The great luck to rise from this miraculous event did not seem to be in any pre-game meal or wardrobe choice. I felt that the reason I hit that race with my next to last 10-spot (toll road home) was because of where I had been standing at the time: near the top of the stretch. When they went past, they resembled a single line from an ordinary high school marching band.
Talk about sacred ground, which could not be transferred like a Beyer, track to track: There was always the specific spot, which gave me an electric feeling, like a hot vortex outside Sedona.
I went back to this place far too soon and stood where the good vibes had been as a 10-1 shot ran like a 100-1 load, last. Losing a lucky charm is a deflating experience. It's why you shouldn't get expensive when it comes to superstitions. Don't risk a good hat on race track luck.
In an extended study of the value of superstitions at the horse races, here's what I have found that could be the truth.
So much luck flies around a horse track, you could run out of previously successful superstitions by the sixth race on an average card. The true value of a rabbit's foot, or a state of mind, is not as a guide to success, but as rather as insurance against the plague. Sometimes at the races, most times, breaking even is fine; no luck is much preferred to rotten luck.
I am extremely superstitious about the following at the horse races:
Avoiding certain people, bad tellers chief among them. A bad teller is where you get a ticket that lost by this much.
I won't park where I lost a lot.
Sit or stand where I was robbed.
Wear unlucky clothing.
I will not leave my vehicle on a downbeat song.
At the races, superstitions are put to their best use to avoid bad luck. Horse players know better than most, it could be worse.
Write to Jay at email@example.com.