Day At The Track

Hidden Positives, 1989-style

11:08 PM 15 Jan 2008 NZDT
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Pull The Pocket
Pull The Pocket

Pull The Pocket takes a stroll down memory lane, and delves into the world of hidden positives.

I had just finished writing an exam; in I think Modern Symbolic Logic, at the downtown campus at the University of Toronto. I was 18. I had $1.50 in my pocket – streetcar fare. I sped to the bus stop and finally made it home. Now I had to find some way to raise some capital and get to the track. I had a good bet in the Greenwood third race. I had to get there and try and make a score.

I looked around. My roommates were not home so they were no help. What I had scrounged up was some change I found on the floor of my room. Then I found some soda bottles, then the coup de grace, a few empty cases of beer. The beer store was down the road, and I was walking distance to Greenwood. I now had enough to pay admission, split a program with a buddy (who was also broke and a student), and go to town with $11 worth of bets on my horse.

The horse was a mare. I think she was by Armbro Splurge, and she had recently qualified in fast time at a new track that opened up in Sarnia, Ontario. This track was slow. I swore that horses there were turning for home in a pile of molasses carting a 300 pound driver, pulling several bowling balls made of iron. I had noticed that once before at a B track with a Sarnia shipper who won at a bomb price, and I was hoping to capitalize on that knowledge.

Betting is simple. If you know something other people don't they are called "hidden positives", and hidden positives can make you big money. I felt this one could be one of those. At least I was hoping so.

Race 3 was a triactor race, so of course I had to try and bet one of those. Plus, some win money was a good thought. My plan was set. The odds board opened and she was 30-1. Awesome. I played a $1 triactor key for $6 and bet $2 to win and $3 to place. My bankroll was shot.

The race went off and she got off fifth or sixth, pulled and tipped off cover at the head of the lane. I was pretty confident and began looking for my horses to fill triactor slots, which any gambler will tell you is a big mistake. Well, not this time as the gods were with me. Maybe they felt sorry for me since I was so broke. She stormed home and crossed the wire in first, by two lengths and the tri was filled. I had won.

The prices flashed up. It was $830 or $840 for the triple and $44 for the win price.

It was exhilaration.

This was the way it was back then with betting. The Internet today would never have let that happen. Word would have gotten out about this nice filly. Word would have spread about the depth of the Sarnia track. I bet that mare today would have paid less than $10.

This is a very difficult game. Sometimes you can find a hidden positive or obscure angle, but it does not happen very often. In the days of Pittsburgh Phil (and he alludes to this in his classic book) you could be a railbird, pick your spots, watch races and chart them (there were not even past performances back then), and make a pile of money. Sometimes I long for those days, being the fan that I am.

Regardless, for one day – one brief moment- I felt like I was there, back in 1900, making a score with Phil.

rticle courtesy of the Pull The Pocket blog, wholeheartedly recommended by everyone at Harnesslink

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