If You Don't Know Who Andrew Beyer Is, You Probably Don't Bet on Horses
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Per Beyer's prognostication, the four and the five break early and fast, taking a two-length lead by the quarter-pole. "This looks good," Beyer says, nodding.
As they pass the half, the two speed horses have opened a three-length lead and show no sign of tiring. "We're in this one," Beyer says. "We've definitely got a shot. This is the scenario I had hoped for."
As the ponies make the turn towards home, a pack begins to gain ground, but it's essentially a three-horse race: Beyer's four and five, and the pesky number one, who's making a late stretch drive. Proving he is human, Beyer, the composed, intellectual numbers guy without much visual acumen, stares at the charging horses and begins to hum nervously, emitting a high-pitched tone quivering with anticipation.
As the horses approach the wire he can contain himself no longer. "Four-five! Four-five! Four-five! Stay right there! Die right there!"
The horses cross the finish line in a tight pack. But the results are clear: the five by a neck. And in second, the four. "Yes!" Beyer whoops, slapping high fives. "Yes!"
He checks the tote board. The exacta pays $162 for a $2 bet. Beyer's ticket is worth more than $3,200.
For about 30 seconds.
The track announcer instructs the bettors to "hold all tickets." There's been a steward's inquiry. And it involves the five horse.
"I'm a jockey hater. No professional athletes have as poor a tactical understanding of their sport," Beyer grumbles. "The guy on the horse's back has no concept of your perfect diagnosis of a race. All he can do is sabotage you, which I'm afraid is about to happen."
After an excruciating 10-minute examination of the race tapes, the stewards conclude that the five horse swerved off its line near the finish, blocking the path of the charging number one. The five is disqualified.
"Damn," Beyer says quietly. "That would have made our day."
He does not fume long. There are other races to look at, other "opportunities" to consider. To Andrew Beyer, one day at the track does not make or break him; it's all one big game.
He begins to assess the next race when an adorable little girl, perhaps six or seven, costumed in a print dress and bonnet, approaches Beyer's table, presents a racing program and politely asks for his autograph.
"For my daddy," she says, shyly. "He says you're the best."
Contributing editor Michael Konik is Cigar Aficionado's gambling columnist.