By The Hennegan Brothers, Filmmakers
Our friend John Englehardt (aka “The Regular Guy” from River Downs in Cincinnati) has always said that once you become a thoroughbred racing fan, you automatically become a de facto ambassador to the game. You now have an obligation to spread the word about the game. Living in the New York City and Los Angeles areas, we have taken those words to heart. As often as possible, we bring friends to Belmont, Santa Anita, Monmouth, Saratoga, Del Mar and – yes – even Aqueduct. Once you get your friends there, they “get it” and then have the desire to return.
So if we had one simple piece of advice for neophytes when going to the track, it would be this: don’t be intimidated by the gambling aspect – whether it’s handicapping or the physical act of placing a bet. We’ve taken male friends that work in the financial world and I’ve seen them get nervous about approaching the window and placing a bet. These are dudes that work jobs where a lot of money changes hands daily. “Just go up and take it easy. They’re nice,” we say. “They’ll help you get it right.”
As for the actual handicapping, take it slow. Bet on a name, a jockey, the horse who tongue’s hangs out. You don’t have to understand and digest all the information laid out in the Daily Racing Form. Baby steps. You can learn over time. If you enjoy sailing, you don’t have to become a deckhand for America’s Cup overnight. Enjoy the the briny landscape before you start battening down the hatches . . . or whatever cool sailor’s jargon a veteran might use.
Another cool aspect of horse racing that may or may not be appealing is the nature of the gambling. By definition, wagering at racetracks is categorized as “pari-mutuel” which translates to “betting between ourselves”. In essence, every time you bet at the track, you are wagering against the other people there. That makes it unique to other forms of sports gambling where picking the game is the equivalent to a coin flip. If you think you can derive personal satisfaction from defeating the person sitting next to you in the stands or in cyberspace, then this game might be for you. It’s also an opportunity to be rewarded for your hard work – handicap a longshot and it comes home . . .BOOM. Cash and pride in one fell swoop. We swear the money looks greener this way.
And remember, always box thy exactas . . .