As we celebrate the first day of Spring this week and crown a new NCAA Men's Basketball champion next week the focus of our attention obviously turns to our next passion. Selecting this year's World Series winner. And of course with the first Saturday of May approaching, who will capture the Run for the Roses, the Kentucky Derby.
But before we grab the Daily Racing Form and head to Churchill Downs next month, perhaps a huge lesson in horse racing handicapping and maybe GAMBLING overall was learned last Saturday, March 26th after the 3rd race at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York.
A Sure Thing
It's been said a million time before. The only things sure in life are death & taxes. Maybe add on waking up tomorrow to the next Donald Trump headline. Beyond that enraged bettors looking to cash in on a similar "sure thing" last Saturday in NY were dealt another crushing lesson when Constellation, a 1-9 morning line favorite with top jockey Jose Ortiz Jr. and 1-9 favorite at the post faded to finish fourth in a four horse field. While no show wagering was allowed, $490K out of $520K was bet on Constellation to at least finish second (place).
Coming off a 10 length win and being 3 out of 4 lifetime and crushing his race opponents previously, it seemed illogical how Constellation could finish third, let alone last, barring an injury. The tiny four horse field helped the possibility of a potential traffic problem on the track. What else could go wrong?
Here's an edit from the "Official Daily Racing Form Chart" explaining it:
CONSTELLATION parked off her hind quarters and further to the outside, had that rival momentarily latch on as the half was being reached, set foot into the stretch and was put to strong handling, proceeded down the lane on an erratic course, moving inward and outward, at times reacting to the whip and at times not, held on well enough long enough to preserve the decision. CONSTELLATION had the pilot grab hold after breaking to the outside, assumed a prominent position, stalked the winner two to three wide on the turn, sputtered about four wide into the stretch, came up empty once straightened away.
The following are the unbelievable payoffs from the race. Keep in mind these are the Win and Place payoffs for only a $2.00 ticket:
Horse Jockey Weight Trainer $2.00 Payoff
3 Lost Raven M. Franco 120Lbs T. Pletcher 21.80 50.50
1 Takrees K. Carmouche 117Lbs K. McLaughlin 36.00
2 Anydayismyday R. Silvera 116Lbs E. Pringle
You read that right. In a four horse field Lost Raven paid $50.50 for every $2 bet to finish either first or second and Takrees paid $36.00 for finishing second (place). There was so much money bet on Constellation that Aqueduct would have taken a minor loss as there was not enough money to recover the massive amount bet to cover the pari-mutuel pool.
No Bridge Jumping Allowed
A huge lesson for all gamblers is to be learned here. Come NFL football season remember Constellation when the Washington Redskins getting +3.5 on Monday Night Football off of two straight impressive wins looks too good to be true. It just doesn't seem possible that any other betting chance like that will ever come your way and you can't pass it up. It is a 100% certainty to pick up "the easy money".
For decades' horse players have been jealous of people that had resources to sink large amounts of cash into place & show pools to pick up "guaranteed money" for less than a two-minute investment. They were known as "bridge jumpers" with a simple theory. You had about a 99.5% chance of success, risking a large amount of cash for the minimum allowable payoff. In the event of the impossible occurring, they would jump off the nearest bridge bearing the result. Just like last Saturday at Aqueduct.
Being a proud and avid horseplayer, it pains me to belong to a fraternity owing up to such a stupid theory. No doubt a select handful of angry bettors put up $10,000 to as much as $50,000 to place on Constellation and were aghast watching down the stretch, expecting their $2.10 return. But I ask you with intelligent reason...would any wealthy guy with $50K to blow on a horse jump off a bridge after a race? Please.
The better or should I say "bettor" entertaining follow-up would have been being live in the grandstand at Aqueduct. No doubt the old $2 regulars set the track record for screaming "MF's" and other "colorful" adjectives while tearing up their win, place, exacta and trifecta tickets on sure thing Constellation. Guess it just wasn't in the stars.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, inlcuding previews and picks from Glenn, click here.