Mucking around

It's time to muck out and mop up after the Triple Crown series.

Question: You actually picked Ride On Curlin to win in New York?

Answer: Yeah. And it was actually a better pick than Wicked Strong, who had no excuses for running a lucky fourth by lunging late to tie California Chrome, whose ride resembled something you might get at a dude ranch. ROC bled through his medication and was taken from the race.

Q: What should an expert media picker who went 0-3 in the Triple Crown races do?

A: Apologize.

Spur coach Popovich has improved question and answer periods hasn't he.

The worst picker in the world could have hit one for three.

Q: How can a horse get in trouble in a mile-and-a-half race?

A: It occurs when the jockey lets the horse do all the thinking. In this case, Chrome's rider let the horse dictate where it would settle into the field, which was in the middle of a dust storm.

Q: Will Chrome run again?

A: Since it appears that revenge is more important to the co-owners than cash, sure, he'll live the sweet dream all summer in Los Angeles and then will take them "All" on at his home drag strip at Santa Anita in the Breeder's Cup.

Q: What's a great tip that can make me some money against all the beer drinkers at the cheap races this summer?

A: Outside speed is often overlooked at tracks in the sticks.

Bumpkins would bet against a new Corvette in the 10-hole at four furlongs.

If you can find something that can get quickly to the lead, it doesn't matter where he or she starts, particularly against the mummies that over-populate the claiming races in the outback.

Q: Has Commanding Curve finished yet?

A: Sure. Couple of hours ago.

Concerning slow-breaking, late-running horses that attract more sucker money than the state fair game that invites you to try to throw ten-dollar bills into soft drink bottles from ten feet, I give up.

If you want to bet the one in next year's Derby that closes from last to second and gallops out faster than a stiff breeze, don't throw the money off a bridge. Just bet $20 less than you would normally wager, and donate that twenty-spot to help feed poor children.

Q: What ever happened to Gamblers Anonymous?

A: It's full of slot machine flops.

Serious gambling addiction usually involves losing at a much higher rate of speed than what you find at the horse races.

If you're playing three tracks at once, odds are you're losing and you might need to rethink your leisure time commitments. Many losing horse race bets are simply dumb, not diseased. Find a horse that you think shouldn't lose. Play some pick three's and four's around it. Betting smarter is often a cure for losing.

Q: What ever happened to your friend who played the cheapest claiming races and boxed all horses without front wraps?

A: He's still sitting back in the corner, drinking coffee while using only the racing program and TV screen for information, and collecting.

Whereas occasionally you might hear of a trainer wrapping a horse's front legs to throw bettors off, usually it means the tendons and muscles and joints have seen better days. Bad healthy horses often defeat wrapped horses that put up the oddball freaky number. Not long ago I saw all unwrapped cheap horses defeat all the front-wrapped cheap horses, with the payoff taking your breath away.

Q: I took advantage of all the cash they're giving away at the home wagering sites and have been playing the horses from the comfort of my game room. I have lost all the free money and then double that amount in the space of a couple of weeks. Why can't I win at home?

A: Perhaps the cleanliness is throwing you off.

What is obviously wrong is you're missing the horrific picks of reprobates and suckers and losers alike. Being able to automatically throw out losing horses is a terrific advantage, as often these nags are odds-on favorites.

One day a couple of weeks ago, I was so desperate about a race on my home wagering screen, I tried to call a bad picker at a simulcast site to get his selection. There was no answer. The favorite won in a photo. I could almost guarantee the one I was calling bet the 10-shot that got nosed out.

Home wagering and home viewing makes it easier to focus on a single track and specific bets.

When you must have losers, quick, get to the track or simulcast venue.

Q: What's a guaranteed loser?

A: Usually any horse that acts up in the gate.

There's too much trainer or owner pressure to scratch even a horse that almost cracked its head open on a pipe.

When a jockey gets off, even briefly in the gate, you should get off as well.

Q: There's mostly quarter horse racing in my town in the summer.

A: That makes it time for this famous quarter horse call: They're off, here they come, you lose.

Or: They're off, they're all banging into each other, did anybody down there see who won?

But it's not true that the Photo light has gone on in conjunction with the gate opening for certain quarter horse races.

Actually, quarter horses run to form much more than you might think.

That's because in a race of four furlongs or less, the break is contentious and it is everything. Sometimes great grandfathers are on the backs of favored quarter horses. Age at the races matters in wine and thoroughbreds. Here's something an old duster, which is the landlocked equivalent of an old salt, taught me. It's the suck up theory. If there is a consistently rocket-quick horse in the race, check for horses on either side. Fast breaking horses sometimes get out of the gate so quickly, they create room on both side for plugs to draft along just behind and nab second at a price.