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Staying after school

After a marathon handicapping experience, you're supposed to sit down and go over every selection bet, the point being, learn from the wins and losses.

Here's what my Breeder's Cup report card and behavior profile look like a few days later.

A smile comes with a review of the notes over the pick of 10-1 winner Wavell Avenue. What happened here was I lost some money on the horse's last race before the Breeder's Cup. The key points of handicapping are more psychological than numerical. If you liked a horse before, and it ran a good race, then you must stay with it and play it again. If you don't, and it wins, it will probably be at a bigger price, and you will feel like having your head examined. Being correct in your handicapping without collecting is the bane of horse race experience. It's simple to find races online, to follow a horse from track to track. If a horse you like loses twice, forget it, you were wrong.

Reviewing a good win is only moderately exhilarating.

You handicap to collect.

What else is to be learned from having picked Wavell Avenue?

Improving horses are always worth a serious look.

A much more emotional experience is to closely review rotten picks.

Going over my grass race results is like looking at a dog's breakfast. It's a mess. The turf course at Keeneland was said to be like a Chia Pet, soft and loose, grass growing out of sand. Like I know what that means. The only grass course race I can recollect having won is one where speed exploded and held on to win a photo by an inch. That was back in 14, a year ago. There seems to be traffic trouble at every turn on a turf race. The best grass course horses often alternate victories. In reviewing my grass race picks over the Breeder's Cup weekend, the best thing I did was only bet $2. A lasting image is one of my turf selections swinging wide from behind a four-horse wall halfway down the homestretch to finish sixth by five.

Far and away the worst handicapping moment occurred in the Juvenile.

In this one, it was somehow possible to like the winner, Nyquist without picking the runnerup, Swipe.

Nyquist and Swipe had run against one another three times before the Breeder's Cup race. And on each occasion, Swipe had finished second to Nyquist. And Saturday they did it again. Only this time, they ran 1-2 with much more glitter. Swipe paid 29.40 to place. When Nyquist and Swipe ran first and second for the fourth time, the exacta paid $191.40. Handicappers use all manner of notes and colored markings to call their attention to a selection worth making. My note next to Swipe was: the winner and his shadow. Playing Nyquist without its body double was like throwing away money to rich people. Horses that have run 1-2 before often run 1-2 again. Horses that have run 1-2 three times are trying to tell you something. Sometimes a person makes a race more difficult than it actually is. The obvious is often toxic. It's not like $191.40 grows on trees. It's a self-inflicted bad beat. The only thing worse than making a mistake is repeating it. The chart from this race is on my cork board for dummies.

Some last Breeder's Cup notes: It looked great at Keeneland. It was a terrific argument for rotating the Cup. But now it's back to LA. There are no fall leaves in LA. There's no fall. There are Hollywood types who spend most of the day looking at the grandstand, wishing to be seen, and not at the horses running around the track.

The furniture store owner of the rocket Runhappy fired his female trainer after she got them a Breeder's Cup Sprint victory in track record time. Wonder how many love seats he will sell now.