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Do Your Homework
by Greg Melikov

People who frequently go to tracks but lack the basic knowledge when it comes to handicapping and wagering always puzzle me.

I excuse first-timers who lack expertise while wanting to experience racing. I've taken quite a few friends to South Florida and Texas tracks who had a
great time, especially when they experienced beginner's luck.

But I recall several occasions at tracks when I came across veteran horseplayers who didn't know what was going on.

First, I overheard a woman being asked by her elderly mother why two horses were favored over her daughter's selection.

The daughter thought for a moment before replying, "I don't know."

I couldn't help volunteering the answer: "The track is sloppy and the pedigrees of the other two horses indicate they'll run better on an off track than
your daughter's pick."

"Not everybody knows that," the daughter said. "That's really valuable information."

It's not like such information isn't available to all. Racing websites and publications list what thoroughbreds have done on wet, sloppy and muddy surfaces.

Secondly, an older man wondered what exactas were. And he was no novice. I had seen him quite often in the press box during this meeting.

"How many horses do you play?" he asked.

"As many you want," I explained. "But two must run first and second."

After several inquiries, he explained the procedure to his wife, and they bet the last race on the program. I also played, boxing the 2-5-9. The winning
exacta was 2-5.

The man asked me if he'd won, showing me two tickets: 2-7 and 5-9.

"You would have," I replied, "if you had boxed all four on the same ticket."

I've also heard this conversation quite often when I go to the track:

"I should have played that horse."

"I thought you liked him."

"I did, but I went for the other one."

Have faith in your picks. Doubt leads to waffling. The more you change your mind about your selections, the less chance you'll be cashing tickets.

I also notice too often that the more some people win, the more they bet even if they don't really have an opinion in the race.

"I feel lucky," they say.

When you're hot, you're hot, but let's face it luck isn't always a lady, especially when you press it without handicapping.

And for those who do the same thing while on a losing streak, I advise: Cut your losses, go home and come back another day.

5Dimes Sportsbook