August 1, 2021

August 1, 2021

You were reintroduced to Zzzabuu four months ago. He had arrived earlier in 2003 from the planet Zzokki in a faraway galaxy, having been dispatched to Earth on a fact-finding trip involving politicians in the United States. Zzzabuu had been selected once again for a special assignment by The Superiors in 2021 because of his great intellect, analytical mind, and his love of gambling. On reaching Earth, Zzzabuu set out immediately to accomplish his specific assignment: to determine details (both pros and cons) of gambling investment opportunities on Plant Earth. As per instructions from the Superiors, Zzzabuu met with a retired, often confused, outspoken, nefarious chemical engineering professor (who shall remain nameless) in order to obtain background material and guidance prior to preparing a final report on his assignment.

As promised, this second of five articles on gambling is concerned with pari-mutuel racing, i.e., betting on horse races. This piece is particularly appropriate since the New York Racing Association (NYRA) venue is now in full swing in upstate Saratoga Springs…a place I have visited 66 years in a row. In any event, here is my take on this betting activity.

Let’s proceed directly to the bottom line. This sport is dying a slow death. Why?

  1. NYRA is a totally corrupt and incompetent organization, unable to run a legitimate business.
  2. There is a 15-20% “takeout” that significantly – and I mean significantly – reduces the probability of the bettor winning.
  3. The sport is currently supported by the aged few, e.g., yours truly, for whom this form of gambling has unfortunately become a way of life. Attempts to attract the younger generation and the opposite sex continue to fail miserably.
  4. The bettor has consistently been treated as a third class citizen, not a patron to be valued.
  5. I predicted NYRA’s demise when I appeared as an invited guest at a Presidential Crime Commission hearing in 1976. My predictions have come true.
  6. I have proposed a legitimate possible solution to the sport’s dilemma…but I hold no hopes for its implementation.
  7. Finally, NYRA has successfully alienated its base and continues to discourage live fan involvement.

But, what about those in this reading audience who will continue to wager on horseraces? Although you should accept the fact that the probability of losing is extremely high, here are a handful of hints that I believe will increase your chances of winning.

  1. For the beginner or novice, who has little or no knowledge of pari-mutual wagering, simply bet the number 1 (one) horse every race.
  2. Always give serious consideration to betting the 1 (one) horse, particularly with 2-turn races where the inside post is a major advantage.
  3. What about tips? The general rule here is to never bet tips. Here’s a quick tale that will seal the deal. Mary and I owned Katy R, a standardbred. One night prior to one of her races at Roosevelt Raceway, I was introduced to a guy who suddenly claimed he had a tip on a horse in the race. What horse? Katy R. I asked him about the source of this tip. He showed me the program that read OWNER: M.K. Theodore and L. Theodore, Jackson Heights. He claimed that he got the tip directly from L. Theodore, a gambling degenerate who was owner and the chef of a diner in Jackson Heights. I showed him my horseman’s photo ID card. He snickered and walked away. So much for tips.
  4. What about win bets? I rarely bet win because tickets are being punched AFTER a race starts. I believe this could be proven in a court of law. (Successfully gaining illegal entry to computers, protected by sophisticated systems operated by true experts, has become painfully clear in recent months.)   Never bet place or show. I also generally try to stay away from favorites, particularly in stake races. I also prefer betting large field cheap claiming races rather than small field stake races.
  5. Try to key on betting on Pick-3, Pick-4, Pick-5, and triples.
  6. What about jockeys? I stay away from established older jockeys, e.g., John Velasquez. Their ROI, i.e., return on investment, is almost always negative. For me, the greatest jockey of all time was Jerry Bailey. The most overrated were Angel Cordero, Eddie Arcaro, and Mike Smith. Give bug-boys (apprentices) more consideration for longer races since the weight allowances are sure to come into play.
  7. Give apprentices more consideration in later races, particularly during the cold winter months, as the journeymen are more likely to be disinterested bystanders.
  8. What about race changes? I love first-time turf but stay away from turf to dirt. I also love horses going long the first time and stay away from horses going long to short.
  9. Give special consideration to 2nd-time starters.
  10. Try to stay away from betting on favorites.
  11. Give special consideration to speed horses in stake races.
  12. Try to avoid betting on layoff (21 or more days) horses in cheap claiming races since they obviously have missed a turn — for a reason.
  13. Finally, stop betting NYRA tracks. I now bet Gulfstream, Pimlico, etc.
  14. Where to bet? Find an OTB or a simulcast facility that offers track odds or bet from home with a phone account since live at-the-track betting has become a dying form of entertainment.
  15. What about money management? Forget about it. It is a non-entity for the real gambler. It all depends on the risks you are willing to take. For the novice, bet only an amount that losing will have no impact on your life.
  16. What about bringing friends and family to the track (as I have often done)? Don’t waste your time. Most are looking for “instant gratification” and become disillusioned / bored when they realize there are 30-35 minutes between races.

Good luck in the months (and hopefully years) ahead. If you continue to bet, and my above suggestions don’t work, blame it on Karma.

Zzzabuu will return early next year (if  I’m still around).

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Basketball Coaching 101 (Facebook)


SEPTEMBER 1:         On Great Eats VI

OCTOBER 1:             On Technical Writing

NOVEMBER 1:         On the Ohi Day IV

DECEMBER 1:          On Hofstra’s 2020-21 Basketball Season / EWSD (Budget Vote)


Here are this month’s three offensive suggestions from the upcoming second edition of my “BASKETBALL COACHING 101” book.

  1. Practice putting the ball in play; there should be several options available (and known) without the need to take a time out.
  2. Always run on offense; the only exceptions are:
  3. The bench is weak, and
  4. A key player is in foul trouble (shorten the game).
  5. Motion offense is a must, otherwise your grandmother can guard you.

Note: Mary (M.K. Theodore) and I (L. Theodore) just published a book titled “Introduction to Environmental Management”, 2nd edition, CRC Press / Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Raton, FL, 2021 (99$). The book is the definitive source for those seeking a non-technical presentation of technical environmental issues, e.g., electromagnetic waves, noise pollution, nanotechnology, global warming, desalination, etc. Homework problems and exams (with solutions) are also available for those who adopt.