By Ray Wallin
When people talk about someone having the guts to do something, it can mean a lot of things. Most often it means that you have the courage or conviction to see something through. You have always talked about quitting your job, but do you have the guts to do so?
Probably not, and that is OK. The mortgage and bills aren’t going to pay themselves. Face it; we need to be responsible for those that depend on us each day, our families, our friends, or our coworkers. It takes as much courage to show up and be present every day.
However, to be profitable at the track you need to show some GUTS. No one is asking you to leave your responsibilities behind and try to make your living playing the races. Instead, you need to show the “genuine urge to succeed.”
It is a fact that people that are successful have a drive. They are highly motivated. They are following a calling that pushes them to not only be better than others but be the best.
What factors drive their success that you can use?
1) Have a Thick Skin
Have you ever seen that guy at the track who comes unhinged when his lock of the day loses? That describes our friend Rail Guy. It is a scene I have seen all too often. He waddles down to the Monmouth Park finish line before the start of the race all smiles. As the race is running, he is animated, calling to the horse and jockey like they can hear his instructions. By the end of the race his joyful demeanor is gone, and so is a chunk of his bankroll.
“Dat bum bug couldn’t get a win if he had da mount on Secretariat with a head start in a field of mules.” He is yelling and cursing at the jockey, the horse, the stewards, and blames everyone. It is as though he is taking the loss as a personal attack on him by all the parties involved.
It is easy to lose your focus after a bad beat. Successful horseplayers take it in stride. They wear a coat of Teflon and let that bad beat, for whatever reason, roll right off them. You need to have a thick skin and make sure it doesn’t make your emotions take control of your betting. Staying level headed and having a short memory are key to letting that bad beat go so you can focus on the next race.
2) Check Your Ego
At some point in our handicapping, we have all found that perfect bet. It is the kind of play that you dream about. The pace sets up perfectly. The figures tell the same story. You call your friends to tell them what an amazing play you have found. You start counting the money you are going to win the night before the race.
When you get to the track the next day, you are relieved that there are no scratches or changes that affect your lock. You decided to take a pass by the paddock to see this stud that should wire the field at 10-1.
Then you notice it. Your lock is walking really stiffly and looks like he had been smoking pot. His ears are floppy, you can barely see his eyes, and Cheech Marin was seen leaving his stable.
This is the horse you came to bet. You brought a lot of cash for this race. You told everyone you know, that you like anyway, to get a few bucks in on this one.
You have a couple of options here. You can play the race anyway and hope that the post parade and warm-ups stretch him out and wake him up. Or you can do the wise thing, pass on the race, and shoot your friends a text saying it no longer looks good.
Some of your friends won’t be happy, perhaps some had already bet the race. But you need to swallow your pride a bit and admit that while he looked good on paper, seeing your lock in real life changes things.
Profitable horseplayers know when they have to change course, regardless of how strongly they felt about something before getting new and useful information. Even if it means having to undo what you have already set in motion, you need to be willing and able to change your mind and not let your ego cloud your judgement.
3) Forge Your Own Path
Have seen the guy at the track, Nosy Nate that asks everyone what they think about each race? He is always looking to see what others are doing and playing to determine what he should do. He is the first to point out that your pick in the fourth is now what Track Handicapper Tony has selected or even close to what the guy in the local newspaper says. It is almost as if he is betting based on a consensus.
No one ever got rich in the long run playing the track handicapper or tout sheet guy’s picks. They certainly didn’t quit their day job listening to degenerates like Rail Guy pontificate about “dat horse dat can’t lose in da fifth” either.
Profitable horseplayers stick with what they know works, even when it looks like no one else agrees with their selections. Successful horseplayers know they need to put in the extra work beyond what is obvious to have an edge over the other players betting on the same race. Don’t be afraid to differ from the crowd, they are only right a third of the time.
While we may not have the guts to tell off an overbearing boss or an annoying used car salesman, it doesn’t mean you can’t have GUTS when it comes to playing the ponies. Find that “genuine urge to succeed” and stick with a couple simple factors that will help you stay not only driven, but profitable at the track.
Ray Wallin is a licensed civil engineer and part-time handicapper who has had a presence on the Web since 2000 for various sports and horse racing websites and through his personal blog. Introduced to the sport over the course of a misspent teenage summer at Monmouth Park by his Uncle Dutch, a professional gambler, he quickly fell in love with racing and has been handicapping for over 25 years.
Ray’s background in engineering, along with his meticulous nature and fascination with numbers, parlay into his ability to analyze data; keep records; notice emerging trends; and find new handicapping angles and figures. While specializing in thoroughbred racing, Ray also handicaps harness racing, Quarter Horse racing, baseball, football, hockey, and has been rumored to have calculated the speed and pace ratings on two squirrels running through his backyard.
Ray likes focusing on pace and angle plays while finding the middle ground between the art and science of handicapping. When he is not crunching numbers, Ray enjoys spending time with his family, cheering on his alma mater (Rutgers University), fishing, and playing golf.
Ray’s blog, which focuses on his quest to make it to the NHC Finals while trying to improve his handicapping abilities can be found at www.jerseycapper.blogspot.com Ray can also be found on Twitter (@rayw76) and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.