With the first annual Baltimore Grand Prix Indy car races over the weekend, I felt the need to go watch some racing… some HORSE racing at the Maryland State Fair. It’s a thing I do every year… I go out to the track and spend the day betting on the ponies. As with last year and the year before, I’m getting a post out of it.
One the way in, I passed the same stand as last year; the one that had the fried Pop Tarts, Snickers Bars, Oreo, PB&J sandwiches, etc. This year, they added a new feature:
To me, there is no need to take the most perfect confection ever and defile it with deep-frying.
My goal on State Fair Racing Day is to win just enough to cover my overhead, which this year is $5 for parking, $8 for admission to the Fair, $5.50 for a soda and a slice of pizza, $3 for the racing program and $1 for the “tip sheets”. This year I had to fork over another fifty cents for a pen, because I left mine in the car. Total overhead costs: $23.00.
On the way in, I saw all these girls lined up along the wall of the track. I was thinking, WTF? Either a bus is coming to pick them up, or they’re all FFA chicks here to see the horses. Then I realized that there was a concert being held there that evening. Aha. I’d have to find out who it is, that is garnering such attention.
It’s an interesting mix of people, at a State Fair race track. It’s like part wholesome families, part degenerate gamblers. I’m kind of in between… a wholesome gambler, one day a year.
I usually bet $2 exacta boxes. An exacta is picking the 1st and 2nd place finishers in order. If you “box” it, it means they can finish in either order. (Technically, you’re placing 2 exacta bets at $2 apiece, so the total bet is $4.) Sometimes, if I’m trying to cover more ground, I’ll box a favorite with 2 different horses, like betting on the 1 and 3 horses, plus the 1 and 5 horses to come in 1st and 2nd. That would be $8 in bets. So any winnings would have to pay more that $8 for me to break even.
And They’re Off
I claimed a seat in the grandstand and reacquainted myself with the racing form.
Geez, I’d forgotten my pen in the car and then kicked over my Pepsi. You think that’s a bad omen for a day with this many mojo implications?
Last year, I made much sport out of the names of 2 of the jockeys, Chris and Wes Ho. Later, Mama Ho had Googled their names, found my post and left a good-natured comment of her own. Her sons had spent the day messing up my bets, so I promised that I’d put a few bucks down on the Ho brothers the next time I was out.
Wes Ho was running on the 3 horse, Our Jaks, so I bet a $4 exacta box with another favorite, the 2 horse, Empress Lisa. I like to start conservatively and go from there, preferably with a fistful of ‘house money.’ As post time approached, the odds on Wes Ho went to even money. If he didn’t finish, there were going to be a lot of people wanting to smack a Ho. But that wasn’t necessary because the 3 horse charged late from 4th position to 2nd and they finished 2-3. I won my bet… a whopping $7.40. Subtract the initial bet and I cleared a whole $3.40. Not a big gain, but then any time you don’t lose, you win. I think Yogi said that. Thanks Mama Ho!
There was no Ho in the 2nd race so I took the consensus picks from the tip sheets and boxed 5 (Unbridled Babe) with 7 (Piper’s Punch). I’m all for babes being unbridled. It’s being “brided” that’s a whole ‘nother thing. I also played a straight exacta on 5-6 (Sangrada Familia).
The 5 horse stayed in the mix but they finished 3-5-6. If it wasn’t for the 3, I’d have nailed the 5-6 part. I didn’t feel bad…the winning horse was running it’s first race ever, so there was literally no history. But that’s the way the horse races, so I was out $6. No more ‘house money.’ I did notice that the jockey that won the first race, Xavier Perez, came in 2nd here. I’d have to watch him.
This was a race for horses that haven’t yet won 2 races, so there was some history to work with. I tried an experiment for this bet… I analyzed the stats carefully and bet on my own analysis rather than what the tip sheets said. I felt pretty good about it. The favorites they were picking didn’t add up to me. Their win and other in-the-money showings were too far in the past. The tips said bet on a 4-7 finish. I exacta boxed 3-6. (My Name is Ralphie and Queen of the Disco.) This was a good gamble… the toteboard said that hitting my exacta would pay $81. That would get me some solid ‘house money.’ By bucking the crowd, I was either going to be brilliant or look like a fool.
From my seat in the stands, I took some shots of my picks.
Joshua Navarro on My Name is Ralphie
Malcolm Franklin on Queen of the Disco
The favorites, 4 and 7, shot out to an early lead. My 3 horse, My Name is Ralphie, was next to last. Queen of the Disco made a late charge to win, but Ralphie never came close. The favorite 7 horse came in 3rd and the other favorite, 4 horse, did not finish in the money. So all told, I wasn’t totally right and I wasn’t totally wrong. And the exacta paid $94.80. I lost my meager $4.
This was another tough one to call… while there was plenty of history to evaluate, all seemed kind of “meh.” Going with the hot jockey Xavier Perez, I boxed his 8 horse, VP Joe with the 7 horse, Joshua Navarro on Am So Happy. Navarro blew it for me in the last race so I figured I’d give him a chance for redemption. I also did a straight exacta on 7-3, with a horse called Unpinkable (in honor of my Pinky).
The one combo I didn’t cover was the 8 with the 3, so naturally that’s how they finished. Gah! My 7 horse finished 4th. “You’re dead to me, Navarro.” I’m down another $6.
Now I’m betting the jockeys. Perez is running the 3 horse, Kansas Tornado. Navarro is on the other favorite, the 2 horse Big MJ. I avoid him like the plague. I box 3 with 8 (Big Apple Alke) ridden by Wes Ho. I also played a straight 3-1 exacta with the 1 horse, Skidoodle. I was sorely tempted to bet on a horse called Pop’s Mojo. In fact, he ran at the Fair last year and I bet on him to win, and he did. That was also his last win. And this race was 2 furlongs longer. He was going 20-1 odds this time, so I stayed away.
Now I know that Navarro is just messing with me, as he runs 2nd to my 3 horse. The 1 horse never came close and Wes Ho on the 8, came in 4th. If I hadn’t purposefully avoided Navarro, I’d have hit the exacta for $17.40. Shit, down another $6.
I’m starting to get discouraged here and feel the need to shake up my mojo. I decide to watch the next race from down on the rail. I’m just betting the jockeys again, because it’s a maiden race (for horses that have never won) and there was little history to evaluate. I boxed 1 (Wes Ho on Missy Kim) and 3 (Xavier Perez on Miss Sweet Talker) in an exacta. This was a 6-furlong race, meaning they’d cross the grandstand once before going around again to the finish.
It’s fun to watch the race by the rail and it’s a great picture-taking opportunity. Here’s what I got…
These first three were from the first pass in front of the grandstands. You can see the 4 (Joshua Navarro on Riley’s Rampage) and 2 (Malcom Franklin on Sugadadeze) horses running in front.
Now, racing for the finish line:
It’s still 2 and 4 dueling for the win. My 1 and 3 are nowhere to be seen.
The gray 4 horse won by a nose.
Freakin’ Navarro wins again. Fucker only wins when I don’t bet on him. Minus another $4.
To further shake up my mojo, I place my bet at the downstairs windows, but return to my original seat in the grandstands. This time I combine betting the jockeys with my own analysis. I exacta box 9-7 (Xavier Perez on Roman’s Touch) and a favorite Coolheaded. I do another exacta box, 1 (Dom) and 7 (Coolheaded).
They finished 9-7 so I finally won one. (Whoo Hoo!) Roman’s Touch was 8-1, so the exacta bet paid off nicely for $67! NOW, I’ve got some house money! Just when I was thinking about calling it a day.
It worked once, so I tried it again… I went all the way back downstairs to place my bet. Unfortunately, some other people moved my “seat marker” Pepsi bottle and sat in my seat. I sat right in front of them. I toyed with the idea of standing for the whole next race, just to piss’em off.
Perez has been winning like crazy but in this race, he’s on a horse that’s running 30-1. I may be dumb but I’m not stupid. According to the stats, the 3 horse, (JD Acosta on Rapid Redux) had won his last 10 races so it was a no-brainer to couple him with another favorite. I picked the 1 horse, Albrecht.
This was another race where they pass the stands twice and I made an ass of myself by celebrating as the 3 and 1 horses “finished” 1-2 on their first pass. (oops) But I got to celebrate again as they hold on to finish (for real) the same way. Whoo Hoo! Rapid Redux was such a huge favorite, the exacta only paid $7.80. Minus the $6 I bet, I cleared a stunning $1.80. Again… it beats losing.
This was the last race of the day, so I decided to really give it a go. (The house money helps!) I bet downstairs again, because you never mess with a streak. I also usually watch the last race from the rail, but again, I went back to my seat, so not to upset the mojo.
This was the first race that Chris Ho was running; Wes Ho was running as well. I pondered long and hard on doing a box with these two, but I wasn’t crazy about the horses they were on.
The program and both tip sheets said to bet 7-3-1. (Albert Delgado on Please Sir, JD Acosta on Here for the Music, and Joshua Navarro on Mr. Mannie.) I played 2 exacta boxes, 1-7 and 3-7. I also played the trifecta (picking 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers in order) as 7-3-1. Needless to say, I was totally invested in these three horses. Bet cost me $10, which is a lot for me on one race.
Once again, a Ho busted up my party. Wes Ho on the 6 horse charged late for 2nd place and the finish was 7-6-3-9. I had the 7 and 3. The 1 horse (with Navarro) was nowhere to be seen. Gah! I had given him another chance and this is how he does me? Oh, and that 9 horse… that was Chris Ho. Rolled by the Ho’s again!
Mama Ho, I apologize. I should have listened better.
On the way out, I took a shot of all the youngsters still in line.
I found out later that they were waiting for a show by a group called All Time Low.
Hmm. Never heard of them. Obviously I’m getting very old.
Anyway, my totals for the day:
Net bet winnings: $29.20
Net Daily Earnings: +$6.20
Whooooooo! Moneybags in the house.
I’m not complaining though. I had a day’s worth of entertainment and it didn’t cost me a dime. I won on 3 of 9 races, even if 2 of the wins didn’t add up to much. Even in the ones I lost, I was usually pretty close. Added up for a Fairly satisfying day.