The beginning of my true confessional.
I took $30 out of my PayPal account and headed to the OTB parlor on West Ridge road. I'm only known by facial recognition in the place. Maybe three or four people actually know who I am and that's just how I like it. I don't want the ragged crowd to know what I'm betting, how much I'm up or down or what my strategies are. Gambling just goes better when you're incognito. You keep your profits and losses to yourself. The only time anyone knows what I'm up to is when horses are in the stretch, as I'm prone to wild cheering when my horse has a chance.
So, after going up and down with the $30 - I promised myself that I'd take home a profit - I found myself down to my last $8. Sure, I had the winner in the second race at Great Lakes, the Michigan Futurity. It was an easy call, as Federico Mata was aboard With Wings and paid a reasonable $9.40 to win and $5.60 to place. But between that and the third race, I had managed to blow most of my stake on some very questionable trotters and pacers.
I plunked down a $2 exacta box on the 5-6 combination and a deuce, win and place, on the 6 in the third race, a maiden claimer. The 5 horse, Dustoffthepunch, was something on the order of 4-5 and the favorite. The 6 horse, Mr. Badabouchski, I picked because of a number of factors, not the least of which was his appearance as they walked out onto the track. He was as fit as a horse could be and alert, though not excited.
Apparently, he was a little excited, as he was the last horse to load in the field of seven, and he was a handful going into the gate. When the bell sounded, he was off like a flash, with the favorite at his throat latch. Just 4 furlongs, these two battled every step of the way, with Mr. Badabouchski edging clear by half a length at the wire.
Bingo! The 6-5 exacta paid $57.00. My $2 flat bets were worth $24.80 for the win and $5.80 to place. After OTB took their customary 6%, I walked out with $82.80, a net profit of $52.80. In all honesty, I never even took a look at the racing form or past performances. Sometimes, you just have to see the odds for what they really are: a guideline to how bettors are so often wrong.
The 4-5 choice was wrong, as he finished second. The #1 and #2 horses were supposed to contend, as they each had been bet down to 4-1. My 6 horse, the eventual winner, went off at better than 11-1. When I bet the race, he was the 4th choice in the betting. Often, I'll look at the odds when there's a heavy favorite and use the 4th, 5th and 6th choice with the favorite in exactas. Much of the time, the horses bet down to 2nd and 3rd choices, which are supposed to be competitive, run out of the money, as was the case in this race.
The journey has begun. I've lost thousands over the years playing the ponies. But I'm determined to get it all back...