If You Don't Know Who Andrew Beyer Is, You Probably Don't Bet on Horses
From the Print Edition:
Demi Moore, Autumn 96
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On this day number two runs well, as Beyer had hoped. But "an inscrutable performance" from the seven horse, a nag Beyer completely discounted, kills the trifecta chances.
"At heart I'm an exotic bettor," Beyer says. "I get more of a rush. I make some straight bets now and then, or with small exactas, but I prefer to go for the big-paying long shot. I tide myself over with singles and doubles, but I'm really going for the home run."
Such a strategy requires a placid, almost phlegmatic temperament. Beyer has one. "The worst thing you can do in betting horses is to be thrown off-kilter by emotional highs and lows. You must totally erase close losses and go on," he counsels. "Near misses are an inescapable part of the game."
As his odds-on favorite in the fourth race at Belmont--which is being simulcast at Pimlico--falters in the stretch, Beyer smiles as if to say, "See what I mean?" He sighs lightly. "Not off to a very auspicious beginning."
At lunch in the clubhouse, Beyer scans his program and announces, "I've got an opinion on the fifth race. This might be the most interesting situation of the day." According to the master handicapper, only three horses (the three, four and five) of the eight-horse field have any real speed; the others are plodders. Beyer bets a $40 exacta box with his three picks. "If two of the three can get the lead from the start, they should run away with the race," he predicts. The four is the favorite; the three and the five, how-ever, are coming off bad races and are paying long odds. If Beyer's analysis is accurate, the payoff should be large. As the horses go to the post, the four goes up to four-to-one, the three is bet down to 10-to-one and the five is the public's least favorite at 16-to-one.
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!"
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