Some time has passed …

Wow … August was my last post here. The older I get, the faster time flies. Hopefully you have been keeping yourself up to date at Pull the Pocket and The Aspiring Horseplayer.  Those guys have really good blogs that are fun to read and keep you up to date on what is going on.

As for me … I’m too busy during most of the year to keep up with this blog. Generally, if I have the free time to blog I’d rather spend it playing the horses or being at the track. I did get to see “the Beach” and “Dewey” in their respective career finales at the Big M in November. I also got to see some great racing at Chester Downs and both Delaware and Philly Park. I almost got involved in ownership of thoroughbreds but decided against it for a number of reasons. I looked at two horses seriously and the first one would have been profitable while the second I’d still be taking a bath with. I just couldn’t pull the trigger. I’d love to and will someday but I’m leaning more towards the standardbred side of the sport when I do make that decision.

How good is “the Beach”? I don’t think I need to say much more. What an awesome horse that I will never forget. I saw him twice in person and I’m glad I did. Pull the Pocket has said all that needs to be said about this horse. I was bitterly disappointed when he was scratched from the Matron at Dover because I was planning on making that trip also. I was almost as excited about his 3 year old trotting counterpart Dewey. What a year he had.

I have to admit to not following the thoroughbred side of things real closely the 2nd half of the year. Other than my friends horses, the big stakes and the Breeders Cup, I just continued to lose interest for a number of reasons.  Too many tracks, watered down racing, the lack of appearances from the big horses and the crooked trainers just to name a few.  I wagered even less money than I had interest.

How bad is this game being managed at this point? This is another topic that Pull the Pocket has really expounded on and made many good points and post about it. I’m here to beat that dead horse some more because of some things that I’ve gone through recently. I consider myself a “good” horseplayer. At the very least above average. I have played this game profitably ( as a  source of income ) for a period of time.  I’d even go as far as saying, while I don’t do it for that reason any longer and don’t spend nearly as much time trying to accomplish that feat, I have matured as a handicapper and consider myself to be atleast as good if not better than I have been at any point in time.

Yet, as time moves along, I find myself struggling more and more just to stay afloat. Whereas in past years, I was a break even or a slightly losing player. I don’t play with the discipline I once did because I don’t have to. I don’t need to win. I do this to have fun. Most of my bets these days get followed up with a $5 or $10 win ticket on the horse that my fiance thought had the best or most meaningful name, or looked the prettiest, or whoever Brian Sears was driving.  That being considered, I’m not trying to lose either. This game is/was fun because I had a reasonable expectation of atleast breaking even. Not so much anymore.

That isn’t to say it is impossible, because it isn’t. I have a friend who does it. He plays horses for a living at Harrahs Chester or the Philly Park Turf Clubs. I watch him do it. However, I also watch him arrive at the simulcast facility at 12pm with a DRF already marked up and I watch him leave at 11pm or later. So yes he accomplishes it and what a feat it is these days. But it isn’t realistic and it surely is no longer fun, which is what I have learned in my short stints trying it. 

Which leads me to my next point. I consider myself a mediocre poker player at best. I probably play too many hands and am probably not able to calculate pot odds quick enough to be considered good, yet I can win at that game. I can win both online and in the casino because I don’t have 10 factors inhibiting my chances. Case in point, as mediocre as I am, I had a convention in Atlantic City three weeks ago. So to kill some time, I took $40 dollars in chips to the poker room to play Hold’em. Over the next three days, I turned that $40 into over $400. Yet this week while I was off, I used my above average horse playing skills to lose almost everyday. So tonight I decided to ditch the horses and fire up online poker. It was a good decision. In the last 5 hours I have multiplied my money by six. And I’m mediocre.

How can we expect this game to grow when you realistically have almost no shot to succeed? You have to be in the top echelon, the very top echelon, to have the slimmest of chances. Yet, you can be mediocre at poker, play perhaps 8 or 10 times a year as I do and have a very realistic chance at being successful. To add insult to injury, I probably spent enough time playing while at my convention to get a free room or at the very least a free ticket to the seafood buffet. I spend hours upon hours  playing horses and yet I can’t recall the last time I got anything for a discount price, let alone free. It seems  every time I turn around the price of admission, the takeout % and  the cost of programs are all going up, yet the tracks are crying about the lack of people. My girlfriend and I go to the casino and she signs up for the Trump reward card and they give her a free $50 to blow on the slots. We go to the track and they give her dirty looks.

Dead horse beaten …

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One Response to “Some time has passed …”

  1. Kevin Stafford Says:

    I so agree….glad it’s not just me that’s been taking a beating with the ponies. I feel like every time I think I “know” something, some new unforseen circumstance throws me for a loop. Plus so many of the horses seem so “flash in the pan” style these days, as opposed to horses you could count on to grind out top performances consistently.

    Of course, I blame myself for most of it. I know whenever “lone speed” beats me that I should’ve known better. I know whenever I jump on a speed horse at Keeneland that I should’ve thought twice about doing so. I know when I take a closer in the slop gettting mud kicked in their face that I probably should’ve looked elsewhere.

    But still – I feel like the second half of last year was the absolute worst I’ve ever had. Strangely, the first half of the year was about the best I’ve ever done. Go figure.

    Synthetic tracks, weather, watered down fields – you name it, it’s all adding up to be a very tricky puzzle to solve. Heck, even falling back on favorites doesn’t seem to help. Look at what’s been happening at Santa Anita. And that’s no small feat, as I consider the regular players on the So Cal circuit to be some of the best in the game. Even they seem at a loss to consistently string together winners.

    I keep holding out hope that one magical day this summer, we’ll see a multi-million dollar Pick 6 carryover at a track that offers $1 (or, almost too good to be true, a $.50 pick 6 entry fee), that features some combination of Zenyatta, Stardom Bound, and other top horses that one could reasonably rely upon. I may have to wait for Breeders’ Cup day for that. Then again, even with those two, I managed to get burned in the Pick 6 this year on BC Friday. :)

    Good to see you back, Phil! Missed you greatly while you were away.

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