The evidence I’m about to use to support the argument I’m about to make will be characterized by some as “questionable.” Perhaps even “contradictory”. And maybe even “really dumb.” And I’m fine with that. But I’m going to use this evidence to make this argument anyway.
Betting on horses is not only a superior option to betting on sports, it’s also the best gambling option in a world full of gambling options. In short, my primary reason for believing this is as follows…
In spite of the occasional obstacles to fairness brought on by things such as illegal administration of drugs, questionable rulings by stewards, and just plain old bad racing luck, wagering on horse racing gives the studious handicapper an opportunity to turn an investment into a profit that is often enhanced in the bettor’s favor by an order of magnitude disproportionate to the actual probability of a given event actually occurring. In other words, you can often win far more money than you should. And through hard work, it is the bettor who has the opportunity to uncover these opportunities and capitalize on them with a frequency not offered by other gambling endeavors.
Ten days ago, I won $15,000 in an online handicapping contest. But to help strengthen the argument I made above, I am instead going to discuss a losing wager I made just yesterday at Oaklawn Park- a wager that lost because of, well, some of the bad luck I alluded to earlier. But had I successfully navigated the bad luck minefield that stands between every gambler and a pile of cash, the return would have been so over-inflated that it would have hurt the feelings of even the savviest sports bettor or daily fantasy spots aficionado.
The setting: Sunday, December 12. Oaklawn Park. Race 7.
I played the $20 Pick 3 ticket you see here at a total cost of $120.
Leg 1: I went two deep. #9 Bandit Point (5/1 ML) and #10 Heritage Park (10/1)
Leg 2: My single, #5 Perfect Happiness, was 4/1 on the ML.
Leg 3: Three deep. All prices. #3 Ship It at 8/1, #10 Flipping Fast at 10/1, and #11 Glamour Girl at 10/1.
Race 7 goes to post…
…and #9 Bandit Point hits the wire first at a juicy 9/1. My Pick 3 is off to a lovely start.
Or is it?
About ten minutes after the race was run, I clicked back over to Oaklawn Park to check the price on my single in Leg 2, Race 8. it was then, and only then, that I noticed Bandit Point was not the winner of Race 7. He had been DQ’d for what Horse Racing Twitter told me was a non-existent infraction against a horse that finished last. I watched the replay myself, and had a hard time determining the reason for the disqualification. My Pick 3 ticket was now dead. And the circumstances were highly questionable, agitating, and tragic. Yes, tragic. Just so, so tragic.
Obviously, that meant that the rest of the ticket was sure to come in as planned, right?. So I played a “suicide prevention” double using my selections from the now-deceased Pick 3 play.
Time for Race 8 and my key horse, Perfect Happiness.
An easy winner at overlaid odds, of course. My phone begins to to blow up with a mix of “dude that blows” texts and “wow you got screwed” Horse Racing Twitter proclamations. And now it’s time for the final leg of everything.
Reminder: I’m three-deep in the live double and the dead Pick 3. My horses are Ship It, Flipping Fast, and Glamour Girl. My double will-pays are pretty sick. Wanna guess what happened?
You probably guessed wrong. I ran 2nd, 3rd, and 9th. The winner was a 27/1 bomber sent out by a trainer that was 0 for 58 on the year, 1 for 98 for his life, and hadn’t trained a winner since April of 2019. Now yes, the horse was 2 for 2 at Oaklawn. That’s true. You could argue there were reasons to like him. But in general, horses sent out by trainers that are 1 for 98 in their careers are big prices for a reason.
The win parlay on the horses making up the winning Pick 3 was around 500 to 1. The actual payout on the winning Pick 3 was roughly 1,000 to 1, or twice the parlay, even with a huge favorite winning the first leg via the tragic DQ of my beloved Bandit Point. The win parlay on my losing 9/5/3 combination was over 700/1. If we apply the same “twice the win parlay” math to that combination, my $20 Pick 3 ticket would have returned around $28,000. Even at no multiplier due to the fact that there was only $66,000 in the Race 7 Pick 3 pool and a huge chuck of it would have gone to me, it’s still a payout of more than $14,000 to yours truly, right? Has to be. I don’t see how not.
So where does this leave us? The only things standing in the way of me and what was very likely a payout of somewhere between $15,000 and $25,000 were a DQ so questionable that Horse Racing Twitter, which is never wrong, went insane, AND a win by a horse at 27/1 from a trainer that was 1 for 98. A loss is a loss is a loss. I get that. But next time, is that DQ going to happen? Is that trainer really going to record his second career win? Doubtful and doubtful. Yes, I agree that I was the recipient of some good racing luck in this sequence. You have to be with horses at the prices I was using. And yes, I agree that you have to take the good racing luck with the bad racing luck in this game. But my central point remains the same:
Betting on horses gives the bettor an opportunity to cash in at inflated odds not found in any other gambling activity. Yesterday, I made a losing bet that cost me $120. But I was two flukes away from a massive score that would have paid me way more money than it should have.
Oh, and I also won $15,000 last week thanks to beautiful, lovely horses but that’s another story for another time.