First he lost his job and then his wife said she needed some time away from him, some time away from him while she remained in their house.
So he went to the race track with all the cash he could put his hands on, which was five bucks.
He hit the Daily Double for $127.
He wondered: Could it be?
The very next race he did some $20 Exacta boxes and had the longest shot in the field second on one of them, and was paid $1,280 for his successful effort.
He thought: Could the magic be back after 23 years?
He put it all to win on the second choice in the next race. The horse broke on top and won so easily, his heart didn't even need to beat fast. After collecting a total of $6,125, he went to a café and ordered a glass of milk and considered his next move.
It appeared to him: I own the day.
He hit a Trifecta for $3,000 and change, a Pick Three that was worth right at $1,500 and a place bet for a thousand.
Then he put the whole amount, $11,340, on a 15-1-shot to show. This horse broke from the first post position and missed the start and waited until the coast was clear before emerging from the pipes. The length of the race was a mile and a sixteenth, the quality, $10,000 open claimers. This horse found his footing on the back side but almost clipped another that had pulled up lame. Once more he resumed his pursuit and put all of his heart and lungs into the last of the race, picking up stragglers as though they were carrying bricks, he was seventh going into the turn and fifth coming out, then fourth, then he was on top of one running third when they reached the finish line, PHOTO, the lunges for third, it was so close, the light seemed to come on even before they hit the wire.
He lost photo by the closest possible margin when the picture of the finish was enlarged.
"Hey Charley, how'd you do?" somebody asked as he left the track.
"Oh, not too bad," he said. "I lost five bucks."
Here's why it's so hard to pick a winner:
1. Teller malfunction.
2. Distractions, people chattering, telling you their picks.
3. Money shows up on the board where it doesn't belong.
4. An unfavorable post position, one that does not suit a horse's style, or the distance of the race.
5. Jockey error.
6. Trainer error.
7. Owner error.
8. Steward error.
9. Bad luck.
10. Trouble at home.
11. Trouble at work.
12. Hidden works.
13. Gambling fever.
14. Lengthy layoffs.
16. Track bias.
17. Weather changes.
18. Not having enough money.
19. Bad bloodlines.
21. Jockey gets off a good horse to ride one that appears worse.
22. Odds too short.
23. Odds too long.
24. Betting machine malfunctions.
25. Multiply it out: Hitting a Trifecta in a competitive full-field race can be like playing a mini-Keeno game.
Not quitting a winner can be a sign of a mental problem.