Infrequently Asked Questions

Sometimes the IAQs are best, the Infrequently Asked Questions.

Question: What's the best way to get a writing job in the horse racing industry?

Answer: First, learn how to write.

There's only one way to accomplish that. Forget journalism schools, if there are any of those still around; there's not much evidence of journalism, about which those schools were based. Forget writing seminars.

The only way to learn how to write is by reading.

Majoring in English is alright because they make you read.

Read everything these people wrote and you will know what great writing is: Evan Hunter, Donald E. Westlake, Harry Crews, John D. MacDonald. Hunter also wrote as Ed McBain. His dialog is the best ever. Westlake created the Dortmunder series, the funniest ever. Crews brought the creepy south into relevance. MacDonald wrote about Florida before it sold out. Unfortunately these guys are dead. Their writing is more alive than ever.

Once you have read up and know how to write, kiss up to somebody in the horse racing business.

Q: Everybody knows why picking horses is hard. There are many horses in a race. Why isn't picking football easier? There are only two teams.

A: Here's why. Not so smart people set the odds in horse racing. Smart people set the numbers in football.

There's the misconception that Las Vegas gaming houses, "gaming" being the preferred term for non-addictive gambling, want bettors to be split about 50-50 concerning favorites and underdogs on football games.

But here's what's better than collecting a commission of ten percent on losing bets: winning most of the money wagered on a game.

Vegas gaming houses have the divine duty to take the other side of obvious public bets. Few football games fall 50-50 with half on each side of a number, no matter how much that number moves. Frequently, games fall around 70-30, 80-20. On games when the public is heavy one way or the other, Vegas wins most of them. Take Denver to obliterate Dallas Sunday by more than a touchdown. The public did.

You can't handicap rotten officiating or insane luck.

Great odds enable the handicapper to bet a little in hopes of winning a lot at horse racing.

Q: How do you handle the IRS?

A: Unless you're a professional gambler, losses are deductible up to the amount of winnings.

With proof: Proof is a neat collection of losing tickets.

How slot machine losses are documented is anybody's guess. Is there honor among slot players?

Q: If a person can afford to go to the Breeder's Cup or to the Super Bowl, which should it be?

A: This year's Super Bowl will be played outdoors in New Jersey in February.

According to the Farmer's Almanac, it could be a little nippy.

Corporate America could give some of its Super Bowl tickets to poor people, depending on the wind chill.

This year's Breeder's Cup will be at Santa Anita in Los Angeles where all predictions are for a lot of leg.

Let's see, the Badda Bing or Hollywood?

Q: What do you think about tip sheets?

A: It's like teaching writing instead of sitting down to write that novel or screenplay.

Teaching is much easier than writing. And selling a tip sheet is much easier than betting your own money.

Q: What's the best bet at the horse race track?

A: Anything that focuses on winners.

Predictions for second are guesses.

Guesses at third and fourth are prayers.

Q: Where do you find long shots?

A: Where there's change.

Sometimes change is its own excuse for a bet: Layoffs, a change in racing surface, change in the quality of the tracks, change in the quality of a race, change in personnel.

Q: If a handicapper won some money on a horse that was found to have been under the influence of an illegal substance, should the bettor give any of the profit to a deserving charity?

A: Probably a little something.

Q: When does bad horse racing luck even out?

A: Much later.

Q: What's the future of the sport?

A: Fantastic television ratings for the Kentucky Derby. Big crowds for the Breeder's Cup and at the scenic race spots: Saratoga, Del Mar, Keeneland, Oaklawn, Florida. Lots more home betting because of the giveaways and convenience. Sparse crowds at the grinder meets in the sticks, but good simulcast play and solid purses due to gambling connections.

Take a slot machine player to lunch.