In horse racing, winning is so sweet because there are so many ways to lose a race.
And some beats sting a lot more than others.
The laws of probabilities seem to be stacked against horseplayers in any one race, even if they choose the right contenders and only bet them at good prices.
Of course, it’s easy to shrug off winning horses that are tossed out as non-contenders — whether they are favorites or long shots — because they are going to win their share of races.
You can easily rationalilze those because they don’t win enough at prices that make them profitable in the long run.
But the real pain starts when the odds on a horse you really like dip below your betting zone, so you lay off. Then you sit there and watch it win, while gritting your teeth as others celebrate around you.
You can rationalize those, too, easily enough by looking at the measly prices of $5.60 or $4.80 on the tote board.
But, to me, the biggest punch in the stomach in racing is when the odds on a runner you picked are sitting perfectly in your betting zone, then drift too high at the last minute. You can’t bet, and when the horse wins it’s really a killer.
Which brings us to Monday’s sixth race, where the odds on first-time starter #2 Shock the Board were fluctuating between 16-to-1 to 18-to-1 for all of the pre-race period. I was fully prepared to bet it at anything less than 20-to-1.
But with two minutes to post, the odds on Shock the Board went to 23-to-1.
Mike Harrington trained it, owned it and worked it two bullets. And he did one more thing right with Shock the Board — after seeing the $62.40 price the horse paid, it was obvious that he gave the animal the right name.
I also bet $350 on the Mike Mitchell-trained #3 Morton Owen at 7-to-2, $100 on #4 Gretsky, who was second.
To watch a replay of this race, go to www.calracing.com.