by Austin Kelley
Whenever I bet on horses, I lose. I have tried different techniques. I’ve been the educated bettor, studying racing sheets, reading the experts opinions, analyzing track conditions. I’ve lost. I’ve been the spiritual bettor, looking the horses in the eyes, communing with their souls. I’ve lost. I’ve tried numerology. I’ve tried whimsy. I’ve tried rhyme. No luck. If I go to the track with friends, even the most foolish among us will win a few. But I’ll bet on the heavy favorite to show, and he’ll droop into fourth place. I never, ever win.
Just before the Kentucky Derby, I was feeling sorry for myself. Another year had come, and I hadn’t grown wiser or luckier. I was still at odds with the Fates, cruelly tossed in dizzying circles of despair by the wheel of Fortune. I complained to my friend Steve. “I’m just unlucky,” I said. “I am an unlucky person.”
“No,” Steve said, “I think you’re due.”
Yes, I thought, I’m due! I put on black pants. (I never wear black pants because I feel like I can’t see my legs in them. But the new lucky me needed a new look, and I thought black was appropriately bold and dark.) I headed to the OTB. I had read extensively about the races and prepared eight bets, including a bunch of exactas and a few horses to win – straight up. My most promising horse was Hard Spun, a long-legged Kentucky-based colt with good speed. He was a steal at 15-1, according to the morning line, and I had a good feeling.
When I got to the OTB and saw all the old men smoking in front of the no smoking sign, though, I wavered. What did I know about horses? I’m unlucky, and I don’t even smoke. I looked down at my black pants and charged up to the window. Hard Spun to win.
Those of you that saw the race know what happened next. Hard Spun led the whole way. It was glorious. Then Street Sense came from the back of the pack. Hold on, Hard Spun. Hold on. I spilled my mint julep down my black pants. Hold on, Hard Spun. No. Don’t. Don’t slow down. What are you doing? Who put you up to this?
Fate is sometimes a good excuse for folly. The Preakness is tomorrow. I’m donning a dress and betting on Flying First Class. He’s 20-1.
flying coach is more like it.— wilt May 23, 01:51 PM #