admire Badge of Silver as a racehorse, one can only wince to think of the maladies his progeny may inherit and in turn pass on to their offspring: the image comes to mind of a shopping cart with three good wheels and one that just spins around.
“He’s got to make a great stallion, as courageous a horse as he is,” was Frankel’s hopeful take on the subject.
We’ll delve into lightly raced horses more deeply in this revision, because dealing with them has become an integral part of the game.
Along with the Thoroughbred’s increased fragility and growing dependence on medication, legal and otherwise, there has been a lot of negativity in general racing news in the new millennium, particularly as it pertains to New York’s well-documented trials and tribulations. As this was written in May 2007, the New York Racing Association was a lame duck existing in desultory austerity, and there was no end in sight to the political wrangling that will eventually shape the circuit’s future course.
But for all the gloom and doom and forecasts of racing’s imminent demise, business is still pretty darned good. Evidently, despite all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, a lot of people still feel Thoroughbred racing is the greatest game played outdoors.
Count me among them. As this was written, Curlin had just come again with a relentless surge to nail Street Sense through a pulsating stretch run in the Preakness Stakes. This running of the Triple Crown’s second jewel marked the anniversary of my first bet: $10 to place on No Le Hace in the 1972 running. Thirty-five years later, here I sit in the press box, mass-producing winners for a living, about 30 percent of the time, and making most of the mistakes that can be made in this very narrow field the other 70 percent. I have outlasted my beloved 72nd Street OTB, which recently fell to the wrecking ball in the name of urban development.
I like to think there’s at least some level of expertise in what I do. Of course, we all know there is no absolute “right” way to play the races, but in this updated Expert Handicapping, I have attempted to spell out how I go about playing the races today, because it is vastly different from how I went about things even a few years ago. Barry Meadow put it best in his column, “The Skeptical Handicapper,” in the May 2007 edition of American Turf Monthly headlined: “Who’s An Expert? And Who Cares?”
He wrote: “A recent book, Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? reported the results of a 20-year study involving more than 82,000 predictions made by 284 economists, political scientists, think-tankers and others who made their living commenting on trends or offering advice and judgment on various problems. The summary: Experts offered no special predictive insight about anything.”
I knew I should’ve said something about the title.