Horse Racing at Saratoga
Two Professional Bettors Take Their Handicapping Expertise and Wallets to Saratoga
From the Print Edition:
George Burns, Winter 94/95
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That evening, we had dinner at a restaurant called the Turkey Trot. We had become friendly with Donna LoPresti, one of the owners, and told her about our failed Pick 6. "My sister-in-law hit one of those a couple of weeks ago," Donna told us. "She doesn't know much about racing and just played numbers."
"What did her Pick 6 pay?" we asked.
In the weeks following the 1994 Saratoga season, Marc and I examined our handicapping and betting records. We had not lost every wager we made. On the contrary, we had hit a decent percentage. However, consider that our living expenses had been close to $10,000. The poor state of racing in New York had boxed us into a corner where we had regarded the Saratoga meeting--from an income standpoint--as virtually our entire year. Our major problem had been insufficent investment opportunities. The betting fields of Saratoga are no longer rich enough in quality or quantity to yield consistent value. Our net result was similar to the Glorious Purple disqualification: we had won, but still lost.
We have noticed a recent decline in horse quality and betting value at Saratoga as racing executives, intent on milking every last drop of the track's restorative power, have gradually lengthened and diluted its traditional 24-day season. The 1994 meeting of 34 days was the longest yet. This not only cut racing quality, but also sapped the sport's vitality because fans were unable to sustain their enthusiasm or attendance over a long period. This deprives Saratoga of the elements that make it special in the first place.
New York finally seems to have taken a serious interest in the thoroughbred industry after years of neglect and falling revenue. There has been talk of change, yet so far nothing has happened. Things move slowly in government and--aside from the track--even slower in racing. Meanwhile Marc will work on a children's book, and I will study history. Maybe we will become racing executives. Will either one of us be at Saratoga next year? I don't know.
Brad Thomas is a free lance writer and a thoroughbred industry consultant living in New Jersey.
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