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Monday, October 28, 2013
A picker's way

By Jay Cronley
Special to ESPN.com

It's Breeders' Cup week, and this one is about picking.

I'll do some picks later this week.

First, these stories:

A number of years ago, a local guy came on the radio and said his Super Bowl pick was the lock of a long period of time, something like a century.

A lock is a selection that shouldn't lose.

A lock is like a real good guess.

Included in this picking package was a sublock, a selection on the over/under number of the football game, a stab at the total number of points that would be scored.

The chief rule in public picking is you have to bet your picks. If your picks are wrong, you're wrong.

A friend of mine thought that the pregame analysis sounded strong. So he went to Las Vegas and made large legal wagers on both Super Bowl touts. Pickers throw sure things around as though they own a lock factory. I cautioned my friend, saying that when it came to wagering, the best seat in the pro football wagering house belonged to, in fact, the house. My friend disregarded the warning and bet more than he could afford to lose, including credit card cash. Both touts were obliterated. Most people play the over number because there's always the chance somebody could score 24 points in the last minute and 10 seconds. By playing the under number, my pal was upset even when his team was playing well but not scoring.

My friend was despondent and hardly moved or spoke until the radio guy came back on the air on his next gig after the game, laughing and in a great mood, and said that he hit something like the game-opening coin flip on a proposition bet and had broken even. This so enraged my friend that he had to be restrained from going to challenge the radio host in a fair fistfight.

The chief rule in public picking is often violated by pickers with a personality quirk. Soft pickers are like TV meteorologists. They can't deal with a lousy prediction. The chief rule in public picking is you have to bet your picks. If your picks are wrong, you're wrong. Period. When it comes to horse racing, if a public picker changes his or her mind a minute before the post and lands on a 75-1 shot, you have to keep it to yourself. It's the toll you pay for having the picking job.

Here's what I bet on the Breeders' Cup picks that I make: $2.

That's because of what happened at one of the first horse race picking seminars I did when I touted a horse that went off at 10-1 and ran next to last. A man and his wife new to the sport and to pari-mutuel wagering found me after the race. They were upset, their moods alternating between sadness and anger. They said that they had bet $250 to win on the horse that I had liked so much.

"You what?" I said.

"He's surprised," the woman said to her husband.

"We want our money back," the man said to me.

She said that they had planned to give me a healthy tip after they won.

The seminar had been free to the public.

I said that all picks were for entertainment purposes primarily and bought them barbecue sandwiches.

Everybody needs some picks for Breeders' Cup weekend. Horses are everywhere. Picks help even if they're lousy picks, because every horse that you can run a line through and eliminate helps. But when considering a batch of picks, read with wariness anybody who reminds you of the weekend meteorologist on TV.