Of course everyone who knew or was with or was a Steve last Friday at Saratoga Race Course was going to bet the 3 horse named …. Steve.
Really, how many Lt. Seans were out there anyway?
New York Racing Association handicapper Andy Serling said Steve, 15-1 in the morning line, “should be 30-1,” but he knew the odds would be driven down just by the name. That’s just the way it works here.
From the moment the race course gates open, thousands are nose-deep in various programs, surveying the fields for if not a sure bet then one they could logically make. But for many of those thousands, logic has little to do with it.
Sure, if you’re a Mike MacAdam, you can study up via Brisnet or TimeformUS or Equibase.com, or go through past performances in the Daily Racing Form. You can do the whole pedigree-trainer-jockey-speed figures calculus. You probably won’t, but you could. Then again, some actually do.
“I’m a teacher,” said Jo-Anne Curtis of Saratoga Springs. “I’m big on homework.”
Taught how to handicap by her brother, she will go through the stats, but also survey what the professional pickers are saying. Sometimes, even Curtis will just pick a number.
“I’m keeping my day job,” she said. “I haven’t figured out the exact recipe yet.”
Most likely, if you are among the masses, you’re using a mish-mash of pseudo-handicapping and numerology/onomastics. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
“Story of my life: two out of three,” said Kevin Laurie of Middle Village, Queens, explaining how he came this close to hitting a triple. He then outlined his betting strategy.
“Playing license plate numbers, birthdays, that type of thing,” he said.
Laurie added he’s considering another equally scientific method: “Throwing a dart at the board.”
But not for the sixth race. Not with his buddy Steve sitting across from him. Steve was the bet.
If only there was a Lt. Sean in the house.
And there he was, sitting across from The Paddock.
Navy Lt. Shaun Posey, of Saratoga Springs by way of New Orleans, sat with his daughter Julie while they went over the sixth race.
“We wing it,” he explained. “The name. The jockey. Sometimes a gut feeling.”
There was no deliberation in sixth: He was taking his almost namesake Lieutenant Seany O. Just to be different, Julie was taking Steve, the shoulda-been-a-longer-shot that wasn’t, to show. The 3 horse went off at 11-1. There were a lot of Steves at the track.
And there was Steve, in front. Steve ahead in the backstretch. Steve leading as they turned for home.
Maybe there was something to this name thing. And there was.
For the Lt. Shaun in the crowd. No. 2 horse Lieutenant Seany O, 3-2 at post time, nipped Steve at the wire.
Lt. Shaun was a winner all because he picked based on a name.
“It’s more fun,” Posey said, “when you win that way.”
Laurie nodded when told his buddy Steve play was bested by a nearby officer with an even more compelling namesake wager.
“That’s racing,” he said, soon to return nose-deep into his program.