Commentary

The horseplayer's code

Updated: September 2, 2013, 1:17 PM ET
By Jay Cronley | Special to ESPN.com

Here's an update on two stories having to do with the code of the horse player, which is something like Dexter's code.

Dexter is the happy go lucky homicidal maniac on the Showtime series bearing his name. His code is that he only slices and dices those who he thinks deserve it. Too bad he's nuts and doesn't always have good judgment. Dexter is fixing to get iced on the last show of that series, and it's about time, as he has overstayed his welcome by about two years and six or seven bodies.

The race track code is pay up.

Here is the first update.

I bought somebody who worked at the horse races a $2 Daily Double ticket that won and paid around a hundred dollars.

People who have the best luck working at the horse races don't bet. They have seen what rotten luck can do to an average handicapper.

A race track is a difficult place to work. There's the urge to bet your check. Powerful urges like that are why you don't see too many broomsticks working in bake shops.

People who have the best luck working at the horse races don't bet. They have seen what rotten luck can do to an average handicapper. They know that nobody hits two big tickets in a row.

They know what betting too many races can do to a wad of money. They see on a daily basis how late runners break more hearts than the New York Jets. They observe on an hourly basis how favorites that can't lose, lose. People who work at a horse race track and do well stick to their jobs and let people like me give them tips after wins, and the occasional ticket.

Giving somebody a ticket is partly an ego thing and partly a wish for better times ahead. Giving somebody a gift of a little ticket eliminates events like low-lifers making more money off your good picks than you do.

The person I got the winning Double ticket for took the $100 and plowed back every penny into a pick six ticket, hit the jackpot as the only winner, and went out and bought himself a brand new burgundy Chevrolet.

And all the while I was thinking that the $100 would go for several warm meals and an electric bill.

There's nothing in the code that says a person can't pawn a birthday gift and use the money to hit the lottery.

But I know what I would have done. And you know what you would have done. You would have taken five crisp new hundred-dollar bills and you would have tucked it into my shirt pocket and you would have hugged me and said you loved me.

To date: Nothing.

The second human interest update involves the loan of a hundred bucks to an attorney who dropped dead due to heart problems soon after this transaction.

Loans are a dime a dozen among friends and acquaintances at the races. I have exchanged money with everybody from bankers to beggars, the trust-funded to the untrustworthy.

Funny things can happen to borrowed money at the races. If a borrower turns $50 into $500, the original fifty isn't repaid until the last bet is made. It's not uncommon for borrowers to go from a loan of $50 to $1,000 to zero. Somebody said it was bad luck to repay a debt during a winning run.

Until the business with the lawyer, I never heard of a borrowed dime that went unresolved at the track: There's almost a religious reverence to alms among the players.

It's hard to say what's the proper and respectful amount of time to wait before inquiring about a debt owned by a horse player gone suddenly dead. So I waited a couple of months and knocked at the widow's door and explained the situation, speaking of her husband in glowing terms and of our business transaction as a couple of guys bonding. Her face was expressive, the highlight being disbelief, then anger, before she slammed the door without saying anything.

This happened a number of years back.

And last week a woman with a different last name called and said she'd be repaying the hundred, probably having met somebody who knew the code.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.