Pushing Wrong Buttons

Pushing Wrong Buttons


By Johnny D.

I’m not currently winning at the races.

That’s something one of Gulfstream Park 's handicappers probably shouldn’t admit. After all, I get paid to pick winners every day on television, in print and online. I’m supposed to be some sort of an expert handicapper. The man with the plan, you know. So, why then is my bankroll more depressed than a week-old balloon?

That’s easy, it’s because I’m currently pushing wrong buttons.

Since the current Gulfstream meeting opened December 1, in the name of public enlightenment, my on-air partner Cristina Bossinakis and I have picked plenty of winners, longshot runners-up and trifecta and superfecta bombs. More importantly (to me at least) we’ve offered elucidating reasons why we like some horses and dislike others. In short, we’re doing our jobs well (I think).

But picking winners on air and cashing tickets at the windows (or via my Xpressbet account) are horses of different colors. For example, just because I think a horse is a cinch at 3-5 and pick it to win doesn’t mean I’m going to bet a bundle of real cash on it. My job requires that I analyze and make selections in every race. And I take that responsibility very seriously. But in real life there’s no quicker way to the poorhouse than to wager on the entire card. Therefore, I attempt to pick my spots and wager when I think I have a chance to cash for a bundle.

Unfortunately, so far my pan’s been coming out of the creek with pebbles instead of nuggets.

How am I handling it all?

Not very well, thank you.

It bothers me. And it’s not all about the Benjamins. Not really. I wager responsibly; take care of house and car payments before I play and give the Mrs. enough cash to fill the cupboard. So that’s not it.

What really gets my goat is the losing, the failure, the agonizing close calls….Running first, second, third and fifth in supers or having a winning horse disqualified in the last leg of a decent pick four, etc.  
That’s not fun.

If you’re a horseplayer, you feel me. You’ve been there before; more than once.

No one wins at the races all of the time; at least not since they busted those Drexel pick-six frat boys who tapped into the tote system.  

In times like these, what’s most important is to concentrate on the light at the end of the tunnel and know that it’s not an oncoming train.

I will win again; and big, too. It’s only a matter of time and of keeping my head on straight. I can’t chase, press or alter my style. I’ve got to dance with the girl ‘who brung me’—even though she currently has a piece of spinach caught in her front teeth.

Since I rarely play one horse to win, I’m looking to score with the long ball, the bomb, the grand slam. And when you swing like that you’re going to have plenty of strikeouts. But when I finally do connect it’s going to be on a big superfecta, pick five or pick six for a winning total that includes several zeroes. I’ll be back in the black with one swipe and ahead of the game for the week, month and year.

If I’m patient, resilient and consistent, my day will come.

I once asked a veteran horseplayer how he handled inevitable losing streaks. His advice was enlightening: “I look at it as lending the racetrack money,” he explained. “Then, someday, I collect it all back with interest.”

And he’s not talking about earning a measly prime rate either.

My loans to Gulfstream and Santa Anita will come due soon. I know it. I can feel it.

I’ll be happy to let you know when I push the right buttons and collect.

Race On!