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Monday, May 27, 2013
New York tells

By Jay Cronley
Special to ESPN.com

A crazy horse player is one who keeps losing with the same strategy.

If the horses running in the Belmont Stakes were to show up for the ninth at Hooterville Downs, most bettors would have trouble playing the race. A mile and a half? Are there hedges to jump? Foxes to track? Most runners will be coming off losses. The third race at Canterbury might be more tempting.

But you don't get to pick some races. Some races pick you. Like one of those Breeder's Cup turf races featuring horses from England, France, Ireland, South America and Tokyo, you have to play all the Triple Crown races whether you want to or not. It goes with the territory.

Here are some angles to avoid in New York.

Holding a grudge on a horse you liked a while back: Lots of people probably liked Oxbow early in the spring at Oaklawn. Then he drew some outposts in the gate, some 10-spots. Fast turns in the hills are not the place to be. And horse players dropped Oxbow like a flat beer. You should hold a warm spot, not a grudge, for old favorites. Bet him at 3-1, let him go at 15-1, he'll beat you most every time.

Bet the top speed or power ratings to win: There's more to handicapping a race than looking for the biggest number.

Points must be added and subtracted to account for bad rides, dumb luck, rotten posts, etc.

Tip big and tip often: If you want the best seat to a show, don't tip the waiter after he or she has put you on row Z, last two seats on the end. Stop by early and tip the person who makes out the seating chart.

At the horse races, don't tip after a big win. You might need the money later. I have actually had to ask a teller for some of my tip back, which doesn't do anybody any good.

Tip at the conclusion of the card.

Play cheap, cut corners, bet only what you plan to lose: How many near misses could have been avoided with $25 more in bets?

Shoot your mouth off.

Usually, an inner peace comes with correctness.

Usually, a lot of talk is a gambling tell, it means you're worried about being wrong and are about to be just that.

Don't bet to win: How many times have you had a 20-1 horse on your ticket, but still missed the exacta?

Two hundred times? Five hundred?

If you love a double-digit horse, you also have to bet it to win, period.

Never stop looking for "value": Who needs a 2-1 cinch that could hook up nicely with a rolling double or pick 3?

Who wouldn't much rather have a 15-1 "value" pick that could light up the board if all the others in the race suddenly stopped?

Play a deep closer at Belmont Stakes time: Many horse players actually think that a horse figures to close more the farther it runs.

It must be the third beer.

The Belmont winner has a history of being in the race all the way around, of being in contact with the leader.

Closing is often an illusion. You're not closing. They're stopping.