Jun

27

Among the things a father has to do with his son is make him a hero at amusement parks, play catch with him, teach him how to deal with old, young, girls, boys, teach him to survive, teach him how to use tools, play games that will provide lifelong benefits, and take him to the track. I took Aubrey to the track tonight and he told the bus riders that daddy's horse lost, but it was winning at the beginning but the number 9 came from behind to beat him". I was very impressed and he said when I asked him whether he wanted to go back to the baseball game or track more, he said " i want to go back to both". I was impressed with the whole thing, and yet Artie's wisdom that " all gamblers die broke was running through  the mind. The spectacle at The Meadowlands is rather pathetic. They're losing 30 million a year or more, and each year attendance declines, and the purses decline.

About 1500 people came to the track on this beautiful day and in the comparable days when Derosa and I used to go it was 20000. The quality of the 1500 that were left was very high, and they knew more about the game than almost all market speculators that I knew. One of them was telling me that the trainers cant make money with these 8000 purses, so every now and then, all the favorites lose on a coalition and the trainers make out big with the exacta and pick 4. My goodness, this was rite out of Bacon, and shall we say, the squeezes and inflexionic trading that goes on in our field. The tracks have given up on selling handicappers picks, as the 1000 attendance isn't enough to support it, but the post and sports eye have at least 8 handicappers each who rate each race. Considering the average handle on a race of 10000, that would seem like a concentration of forces in a field with a low return to scale and effort. The erudite analysis of Dave Brower on each horse in each race in the program is very reminiscent of the experts I hear on TV when I am in a hotel and need prices.

I like this typical sentence one of 110 for the day. "Machs tenor. Makes third start off the bench here, and this is the spot to take a shot, draws the pole and trust me, he's better than he shows." Amazingly pithy and deep for each race. When Brower's horse wins, the announcer congratulates him. There are helpful operatives all around the track showing us how to use all the machines. But I opt for the old fashioned teller and he has a belly laugh when Aubrey says to him "x on the 4 hours to place". It's one of about 5 tellers left there with hundreds of computers taking all the meager remaining bets. The sports eye has 20 tells for each race, ranging from average winning dollars, percentage, in the money, beaten favorite, strong stretch, good trip, favorable post position, hot trainer, first or second recent race after layoff, favorable driver change, won last race and stays in same company, second recent race in same class after dropping, superior mudder, blocked in last race.

If only the level of analysis in markets was half as good or half as tested. There were dozens of patrons following simulcasts that were being screened and they screamed as the race progressed and the emotions were so much the same as the thing that Jeff and I and so many others on this list saw in the pits, and no prisoners and life and death passed so fleetingly through the rings.

Thomas Miller comments:

I was in Atlantic City a few years ago and was walking through the large public bus waiting area that serves the casinos. 99% of everyone there waiting for the lonely long ride home and looked dejected and sad staring blankly into space, It was eerily quiet, with almost no conversations taking place. They had obviously lost what little money they had for the week. If you ever fear for Aubrey becoming a gambler, take him for a stroll through this area (it's probably still there). Your father's wisdom is played out in real life on a daily basis. These people play an important role for the casinos like many market players that slowly churn through their accounts paying for the upkeep of the mistress.

Ken Drees writes:

NYT: Reasons for the Decline of Horse Racing

I am up too late tonight posting this–going to pay tomorrow.

I am in the lost generation that never knew horse racing. The only touch I got was from my grandmother who would call us on derby day morning and read us the odds and the names over the phone. We would tell her to bet the horse for two dollars and she would—how I don't know, and it didn't matter because we never won.

At least we watched CBS wide world of sports who showed the major horse races with some built up punchiness since we had skin in the game.

Ralph Vince comments: 

I don't know HOW anyone can approach ANY risk-opportunity in life WITHOUT having been steeped in "The Track," and all it's (now-evident-to-me-market-relevant) b.s., the list of such which would take the better part of today to catalog.

I was fortunate that my father and uncle's were so swarming-crazy about such things. Railbirds at the top of the lane, where the roar of thoroughbreds coming out of the last turn induced an unforgettable euphoria with each race….

"If you go near that window I'll break your g.d. arm," I remember my uncle reminding me at least a hundred times. (I shouldda listened).

As a little boy, there were three, really BIG days, Christmas, "The Opener," (where the Indians, playing their first at-home game mandated you cut school) and the first Saturday in May — the latter, being the biggest. To go to Churchill Downs for that was nothing less than a pilgrimage to the high temple of life itself.

To go there, on any other day and see firsthand the contrast of the high temple, transformed into Podunk Downs on a Wednesday afternoon, in the middle of dumpy L'ville, taunts a boys imagination and makes him realize that the entire episode, the magnanimity of it, is all in people's heads –as with everything.

Jeff Watson Comments:

I grew up at the track from the age 8 or so. I learned everything the hard way paying a very steep vig. I quickly learned to only bet 1 or 2 races on a card trying to find that elusive overlay and still usually lost. Luckily I discovered Bacon, Cohail, and a few others that made my daily deposit shrink just a little. The smells, cigar smoke, the body odor, the spilled beer, torn up tickets, the touts, the losers, the winners, lost dreams, every human emotion is amplified 200% at the track. As a kid, I learned that if I had a good afternoon at the flats, I could make it to Maywood Park by the 3rd race to bet the sulkies at night. We always found accommodating adults to get down our action. I usually went home a little poorer, but much wiser learning many things. There were so many indicators at the track, and I learned at a very early age when to throw out the chalk, which was perfect training for the pit. In fact, learning when to throw out the chalk was probably the best lesson I ever learned that I could use throughout my life. Electronics has done to the track what it has done to the trading pits and I feel very bad about the disappearance of a way of life. There's nothing like hearing the roar of the crowd of 25,000 people while the thoroughbreds are thundering towards the finish line, neck and neck. OTB and screen trading just don't cut it for sheer excitement.


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