About a week before the one hundredth Kentucky Derby, I made a few bucks betting on a cheap rat at Suffolk Downs in Boston. Suffolk is one of those places where nothing ever changes.They still run an inordinate number of rat races, so I'm sure the same system will work there today. Here's my Suffolk system.
Ignore the past performances. Don't even buy the racing form. Everything you need can be found in the program. Look for trainers ruled off from some place like Beulah or Charles Town, and throw out the rest of them. Suffolk hands out trainers licenses the way they hand out numbers at the B&D Deli on Sunday mornings. Most of the local yokels couldn't train a dog to bark.
All the way home, I'm making plans for the money, when suddenly it comes to me.
Let's go to the Kentucky Derby!
Surprisingly, the old lady was all for it. ( This was back in the old days.) First, she had to go shopping, so I dropped her off at Lord and Taylor and I walked on over to Louie's.
I told the salesman" I need a suit to wear to the Kentucky Derby." In a few moments,he came back with a pure white, three piece, silk suit.
" Well, what the hell?" I said. "Why not?"
I said that a lot in those days.
After a good three hours, sitting in the car cussin and smoking, I saw Phyllis coming down the side walk struggling with a pile of packages.
She says, " I found this wonderful black dress!"
I said" Well, what the hell?" Why not?"
So, off we went, heading for the Derby. After driving all day and night,we finally arrived at our hotel, in downtown Louisville. It was nine in the morning on Wednesday, three days before the one hundredth Derby.
The old lady was exhausted from sleeping all night while I drove, so she took a nap! There was no way I was going to miss a day of racing, so I decided to take a walk and clear my head before heading on out to Churchill Downs.
Two blocks from the hotel, I found a little used book store, with handicapping books in the window. One book caught my eye, a little paperback called Eliminate the Losers, by Bob McKnight.
Best handicapping book, I ever read!
After a quick shower back at the hotel, I sat down and read McKnight's tome. That was the first of many times,over the years,that I've read the book. You can read the damn thing in less than an hour. Bob gets into the usual, speed, class, and condition, but the big thing is condition. Speed and class are very nice things to have in a race horse. They win most races, but faster and classier horses get beat all the time by razor sharp, fit horses. Condition is everything.
The pearl in the oyster with this book is found in the title, Eliminate The Losers. Understand that concept, and you'll be way ahead of all the wiseguys, who only read How to Pick the Winners. It's the losers that eat away at the bankroll.
So, I'm all set , ready to head out for Churchill, when I hear Phyllis, my old lady, yelling from the shower," Hey, wait for me ! I'm going too ! I'll be right out."
"Jeez!" I said. "Well, what the hell. Why not?"
An hour later, we're in a cab, already too late to make the double. The third race went off, just as we settled into our grandstand, seats. We were at Churchill on Wednesday of Kentucky Derby week ! Could it get any better than that ?
I had Eliminate the Losers fresh in my mind, when I finally opened the racing form. After a third and a couple of seconds, we came to Churchill's mid derby week feature. the Twin Spires Stakes. I eliminated most of the field right off, too slow, too long away, declining form, wrong distance, or just not classy enough.
One horse survived the elimination. Crimson Streak had the look of a good thing! He looked even better at twenty to one.
I jumped up and ran for the windows, planning to bet two hundred across, but the line for the win, place, and show window stretched halfway across the room,so with two minutes to go before post, I ran for the win only window.
" Six hundred to win on the seven", I said. The biggest bet I'd ever made.
Crimson Streak began a big sweeping move at the quarter pole, took the lead turning for home,won by seven, and paid forty three bucks.
I went to the window and collected over twelve grand !
Things got even better.
On Thursday I went out to the parking lot, looking for a scalper selling derby tickets. All seats for this derby were sold years ago. Scalper prices ran up to a thousand bucks for grandstand seats. I'm shopping for the best deal, when a dude in a business suit walks up and asks if I'm looking for tickets. He had two clubhouse box seats for the Oaks and the Derby that were given to him by his boss. He wasn't a racing fan and he just wanted to sell them for face value. I probably sounded just like that cute redneck girl, from Panacea, when I yelled, " Hell yeah!"
I grabbed them! What a deal!
The rest of that day I spent walking around Churchill, just digging on the happenings. And what a scene! The Kentucky Derby attracts them all, players with their fancy girls, tourists, goobers from Paducah, racetrack touts,Three Card Monte hustlers from up on Fourth Street, swells from Lexington, pickpockets, stoopers, horsemen,worn out old jockeys, wiseguys and wannabees, and just about every other racetrack degenerate in America.
On Friday, Kentucky Oaks day,we sat alone in our clubhouse box seats. Two hundred to win on Silver Florin made my day. Eighteen and change to win!
Saturday, Derby Day began with two hours cooling my heels, while Phyllis got dressed. On any other day, we might have just stayed in the hotel after I saw Phyllis walking around in that black dress.
Finally we're off, me in a white silk suit, and Phyllis in the black dress. Ebony and ivory heading for the dam derby!
Our clubhouse box turned out to be the corporate box for Kentucky Fried Chicken. All the company's district managers were already there, when I showed up looking like the colonel in my white silk suit. "Geez!"
What a party we had!
Phyllis collected two sets of derby glasses. One of the district managers had brought in a shopping bag full of Southern Comfort miniatures,so every time she bought a Mint Julep,he dumped in another shot.
I bet one winner all day, a reformed Suffolk rat named Brunate. He won the derby day stakes for sprinters.
Cannonade won the derby.
I bet a loser that a more sober man might have eliminated.
After the races,the old lady and I went to the Galt House Restaurant in Louisville, where a twenty-dollar tip got us a table next to Penny Tweedy and Lucian Lauren. Phyllis was unduly impressed by that.
Next day it was back to reality, Boston and the rats at Suffering Downs.
I had over twelve grand in my pocket, and could not wait to get back for Derby 101.
Now. there's a different story, for a different day.
A very different story!
Maybe I'll tell you about it some time
Posted by Degeneratevern