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Sep 30, 2005

THE WORST MEET OF MY LIFE

By: Joe Takach


One of the most inexplicable and puzzling aspects of our great game is how we can experience a winning day that is immediately followed by a losing one a mere 24 hours later, even though we as handicappers haven’t changed a single thing in our methodology.

 

What causes this you ask?

 

While I can offer you a personal list of why I lose on any given day, I still don’t have the entire answer and most likely never will.

 

This year as with every year, I couldn’t wait to get out of Hollywood Park and their never ending 4 and 5 horse non-competitive boring fields.  It’s very tough to grind out a living under those adverse conditions.  

 

This upcoming year (2006) the totally inept Hollywood management team will no doubt introduce the “3 horse field” as standard fare.  Or perhaps they’ll go “where no racetrack has gone before” and offer 10 “match races” a day with the attitude that we as players should be happy that they are willing to open their doors for we sorry-assed gambling degenerates!

 

But enough about the racetrack that everybody loves to hate.

 

Give me my “home” track of Del Mar where full fields and competitive racing is the norm making me as happy as a pig in slop.

 

And why shouldn’t I be? 

 

After all, my win percentage for any given Del Mar meet has always been in the 30 to 38% range year in and year out-----at least up to this year!

 

I had a very tough time cashing a ticket during the 2005 Del Mar meet and ended up in the red----make that “bright” red!  I was bleeding everywhere.  

 

But what is even more embarrassing to admit, is that my win percentage was a shameful 17%.

 

17%!!!

 

I couldda thrown darts at my program or played horses with “cutsie” names and done as well!

 

Since moving to Southern California 14 years ago, I’ve never experienced a meet at any racetrack where my win percentage even approached 20%, let alone 17%!

During Del Mar 2005, I took the eternal racetrack moan of “I can’t pick my nose, let alone a horse” to an entirely new plateau. 

 

It wasn’t a question of picking my nose, I couldn’t even find my nose to get my finger in it!

 

So what happened and what am I going to change in my methodology before having another potentially disastrous meet with the opening Santa Anita Oak Tree?

 

I’ll answer the second question first.

 

I’m not changing a thing!

 

A well-crafted 30 year winning methodology doesn’t suddenly self-destruct in a mere

7 weeks of racing.  Winning methodologies are based on very sound handicapping principles with the addition of one’s proprietary or inside information.    

 

When combined in the right proportions, these handicapping principles and one’s “inside” information form a foundation that is as strong as any in corporate America and will stand the test of time. 

 

A 7 week aberration surely can’t and won’t topple it!

 

Okay, now to part 2 and what happened?

 

I won’t bore you with lame excuses and I’ll keep it brief.  And bear in mind that every horse I bet at Del Mar was physically sound and good looking in every way.  What’s more, every one of them got a very positive pre-race warm-up before I put my money down.

 

After reviewing every losing wager, it “seems” I encountered the following:

 

1-----Patrick Valenzuela is the greatest rider alive when he’s “straight”---at least he is in “my book”.  There’s never a question of whether or not Patrick “is sending”.  P Val sends everything and he’s always trying to win.  He rarely fails to give you a “ride” for your hard earned money.

 

In nearly 50 years of watching great jockeys get horses out of the starting gate and on the lead, Patrick is unquestionably “the man”!  I’m totally convinced that where he riding a Kellogg’s cornflake, he’d have that cornflake 2 lengths in front exactly 3 jumps out of the gate.

 

I did make winning wagers with Patrick in the irons at the Del Mar 2005 meet, but every time that he broke poorly for whatever reason costing him the race, yours truly was all over his mount like an annoying fly at an August picnic.

 

2-----I caught more bad traffic at Del Mar than a Greyhound bus driver on Southern California’s infamous Route 405.  I repeatedly got blocked, steadied, checked, forced wide, bumped, shut off, whipped in the face etc.  Whatever your working definition of a “bad trip”, it seems my horses literally reinvented the wheel.  It wasn’t at all uncommon for most to be in trouble from gate to wire.

 

 3-----Bad steps on the turf are not at all uncommon in any grass affair and can sometimes “snap defeat from the jaws of victory”.  But most often “good horses” can take a bad step, quickly recover and go on to victory if they were the “right” horse to begin with.  However, there were a handful that didn’t overcome their Del Mar missteps. 

 

And yeah, I was on every one of them!

 

4-----I want you to recall any seven week time period in your handicapping career where you were taken down 3 times. 

 

What’s that, it’s never happened to you?  Me either until Del Mar 2005!

 

5-----Do you think your church or hospital charity “thrift shop” have a lot of “seconds”? 

 

No they don’t! 

 

I unquestionably had more seconds for that 7 week meet than all the Southern California thrift shops combined.  And for more salt thrown upon my open wounds, I didn’t win a single photo.  It got so bad that when I was involved in a close photo, I tried to make a bet with friends that my horse lost.  I didn’t need a photo.  I knew my fate long before any numbers were posted and the race made official.

 

So will this continue into Santa Anita Oak Tree 2005?

 

Who knows, but one thing is for certain.  If I continue to pick only 17% winners at Santa Anita, look up into the sky. 

 

Elephants will have sprouted wings and will control the air lanes!

 

See you in the paddock!

 

 



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