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A Nod is as Good As a Wink…to a Blind Horse

So, back to Belmont.

Right before you place your bets, you walk over to a tunnel to watch the horses as they head onto the track. This is so you can judge the demeanors of the horses and their jockeys before wagering anything.

To me, a rookie gambler, each horse had a unique appeal, each jockey his own attitude. I found their countenances hard to read. Each small, serious man had his own way of approaching the dirt — which expression would be the telltale sign of impending victory?

In some faces, I could read nervous enthusiasm. In others, I saw weariness. Who the hell am I supposed to bet on?

Here’s where my thoughts drifted. Let’s say the jockey on Doodles, the 6-1 horse, looks anxious. And let’s say all of us reckless gamblers read too far into it. We run back to place our bets, running into our pals on the way.

“Who do you like in race 4?” they ask.

“Dunno. But the man on Doodles looks terrified.”

So, none of us place bets on Doodles. And as Doodles prances out to the starting gates, his jockey sees his odds have gone down to 7-1. This makes him even more nervous and downtrodden! And with that, he’s psychologically tapped out of the race. This was a fascinating thread to me. Never have I understood the effect of psychology on the outcome of an event so clearly.

But who am I? I lost three races in a row, and only won the last race at the last second.

I did win the last one though, didn’t I? Yeah, that’s right. Gold Record came in on a 10-1 shot. Yes. Guess that means my penetrating psychic eye saw right to the core of those jockeys.

Now I’m ready to go back.