Commentary

What were the rest of you thinking?

Oxbow at 15-1 odds! Hadn't anyone else been paying attention to the horse's form?

Updated: May 20, 2013, 7:15 PM ET
By Jay Cronley | Special to ESPN.com

That sure was some rotten handicapping.

Not by me; I had Oxbow third in the picks. I didn't hear of another soul who mentioned the horse, except to say he'd quit down the lane.

He went off at 15-1. There's the sorry handicapping, those high odds.

Go look at Oxbow's form. Few horses have had post positions as bad as what Oxbow caught during his recent run: 10, 11, 10, 10, 10 and the doomsday one post at the Derby. Bad post positions matter. Bad post positions cost lengths.

Orb's history of pitiful breaks caught up with him. You can't always run from behind because somebody good will find an uncontested lead, and then you will lose. Orb's Derby numbers were obviously inflated by the mud.

Speaking of numbers, like Beyer numbers, the highest numbers again were busted into smithereens. Stop playing high numbers only, people, before you find yourselves playing slot machines. Oxbow's high Beyer was 95 -- out of the 10 gate at Oaklawn. And, speaking of late runners that will always break your heart, Orb busted Belmont Park's bank account, as well.

This about Belmont: After college, selling stocks and bonds, pork bellies and about anything else that moved sounded nice. This was in the day when the big stock and bond houses sent prospective brokers to New York for a few months of training on Wall Street during the day and foraging for fun at night. Trainees huddled on the west side in a seedy residence hotel around the corner from the Dakota, where the biggest stars lived. We were paid $1,000 per month. This sum lasted about four days, even eating stuff stuck on toothpicks at neighborhood bars. So I started riding the train to Belmont Park for the horse races to supplement my lack of income. A gigantic stake was carrying $75 cash. There's no better way to go to the horse races than by rail car -- sad sacks making excuses three hours before the post, grumps condemning riders out of habit, a direct focus on the Form. Winning a relatively small amount of money was joyful. Needing the money to show off with made winning $50 a worthwhile experience. Needing the money taught a person to look for biases, how to appreciate a place or show score, how to quit a little bit ahead. Losing 20 bucks hurt. Bad.

Belmont Park is a giant structure that is electric when full. Orb could have put it on the map of the stars' homes, could have made it current. But in three weeks, "back in the day" will probably be the tone.

Look at the good side. The racing industry in New York is showing a fat profit, thanks to casino-style gambling. Maybe some of the slot-machine junkies will stop by the nearly big race to see where some of their money is going.