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Monday, March 4, 2013
The long and short of it

By Jay Cronley
Special to ESPN.com

First, this update from the Hindsight News.

Horseplayers who get tense over extended layoffs and are reluctant to play even big Beyers that have been away from the races a couple or three months have probably had profitable Derby prep seasons; or at least more profitable prep seasons than those who thought that Normandy Invasion and Overanalyze were the most recent runners to be blessed and tabbed as future stars by the eastern bloc of writers and pickers.

Next up to try to bounce back from looking great in the Remsen, which is starting to resemble something that only a New Yorker could love, is Delhomme, a neat third back in the day, Nov. 24. As a writer who had liked the other two from the Remsen said, maybe the extra-long layoff had taught Delhomme how to get a mile and a quarter. That is certainly possible. Meteors are after all hitting earth. If it is true, as I continue to love to pretend, that layoffs are particularly difficult for three-year old Derby hopefuls to understand -- the first race after three months off has to come as quite a surprise -- then there is no reason to consider the Remsen as a ghostly event full of lost souls. Normandy Invasion ran fine. Second after a layoff is solid old school. Now this note to those who continue to think that Verrazano's running away from four others in a cheap race in Florida is a sign of unlimited greatness, just make sure your Derby futures odds will be higher in the pool than his odds at the post at Churchill. If you think somebody is apt to steal the Kentucky Derby on the lead, good for you.

Now on to the psychology of a long shot player.

Bad bettors have bad habits.

I used to know somebody who booked football bets and said that he could usually tell which side of a game his regulars would play most of the time; not that he would adjust a number a half- point against them when he recognized a voice.

Most regulars played the favorites in football.

And so it is with horse racing: Some tellers might fall off their chairs if a regular played a 20-1 shot.

Being predictable in an unpredictable game will result in a best-case scenario of getting back to even.

Here is what must be included in the psychology of somebody capable of playing a long shot:

You can't embarrass easily. Your 25-1 shot ran last? So? There went $24 bucks, something like that, that's all.

The idea that the same thing seldom happens twice; the cheaper the race, the better 15-1 looks.

The notion that certain professional pickers have a difficult time picking winners, when some pro pickers get on a favorite, it's a green flag to the longer shots.

The idea that odds shouldn't put you on or off a horse, but should instead suggest what and how much to bet.

The belief that anything is possible. Some long shots can't be hit. Those horses win as a result of crookedness, or life with animals. When a horse that can't win wins, it's like an extra tax that you pay in order to have a shot at dummy money. Sometimes it's like you have to pay a little extra for the right to gamble against drunks and dopes.

Write to Jay at jaycronley@yahoo.com.