A world apart from casino gaming, horse racing has its own culture, its own allure. Commonly known as the sport of kings, horse racing always has attracted people of wealth and privilege; and an afternoon at the race track easily can involve as much scorekeeping among celebrities as sizing up the horse flesh. The meets at the world’s major tracks often govern jet-setters’ social agendas.
Betting the ponies appears less risky than staking your fortune on the turn of a card or the spin of a wheel. Dedicated horse racing fans have at least as many resources as stock brokers and commodities traders: every day, a host of handicappers post their picks in print and online. Just as importantly, as you pick your favorites in premier stakes races all around the world, you enjoy access to horses’ genealogical data and track records; you also can assess jockeys’ records and the effects of different weather and track conditions.
Horse-racing experts issue three stern cautions to beginners. First, until you learn the horses and jockeys, place a minimum wager on the favorite in each race, hedging your bet by predicting the favorite will finish second. If the horse wins, you make some money, and if the horse places, you at least recoup most of your bet. Second, attach more importance to the jockeys than their mounts, consistently putting your money on the rider with the best record. You must assume a skilled rider can encourage a championship performance even from a mediocre racehorse. Third, enjoy all the stories about horseracing superstitions, but do not allow soothsayers and Ancient Mariners to influence your choices. Do not automatically invest in the only gray horse among all the brown ones, and do not put your money on the horse sporting your lucky number or your old school colors on his saddle blanket. The experts also offer one strong recommendation: place a side bet on the daily double, setting aside your analysis and trusting your intuition. One expert says, that a little side bet gives you a great reality check. If your intuition consistently outperforms your intellect, turn off your computer and stick to trusting your gut.
Of course, if wagers on horse races were as purely and coldly analytical as the data suggest, no one ever would capture a big payoff or bring in the sentimental long-shot. Experience fine tunes your instincts, and you may look forward to the day when “following your little voice” will make you rich.