Commentary and Opinion

MAURER: At the sports book with Cousin Eddie

September 1, 2012

Mickey MaurerThe eighth at Del Mar—the last race on the card. Eleven horses vied for a $28,000 purse. We liked Elivette breaking from the first post position. She favors the rail.

Eddie the Horse, aka Cousin Eddie, called the other day. Cousin Eddie is an obstetrician/gynecologist and medical director of one of the largest OBGYN practices in Houston. He also is an author, inventor, songwriter and stock market whiz. He worked his way through college as a singing waiter. Late in his career he opened Yoso’s, a hot dog stand with the proud slogan, “There ain’t no hog in the Yoso dog.”

I wrote about Cousin Eddie when he hit the superfecta at Laurel Park. He plucked down $24 and rooted home the first four horses in exact order, including a 40-1 long shot. His $24 bet returned more than $21,000—in stacks of $100 bills. He’s been chasing that high ever since. Eddie and I enjoy the track together two or three times a year. We are not bad handicappers.

Elivette went off at 7-2, the third favorite—not surprising since her last two outings, both with classier thoroughbreds, were disappointing. She was back in her own company this time—a $12,500 claimer.

Eddie had a plan and he sought my collaboration. The Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas issued a $150,000 guaranteed race handicapping challenge, a two-day event at the racing and sports book venue. Eddie declared, “Together we can win this thing.”

One Hundred Forty Seven railbirds from throughout the country each anted up the $2,000 entry fee in an effort to win the big prizes, roughly $100,000 for first and $50,000 for second. The group included a number of self-proclaimed full-time professionals. Eddie felt we could compete on that level, but he wasn’t supremely confident. He sold shares in himself. I took a sixth.

Post time 7:30 p.m. As the sun settled over the famed California track—once the regular habitat of Bing Crosby and his cronies—the horses entered the starting gate. Elivette broke well. She ran comfortably in fifth stalking the frontrunners. We were not concerned. She finished most of her 2012 races blazing to the finish. We love late speed.

On both days of the challenge contestants are required to make 15 wagers using only one horse per race on any of the scheduled races from the Saratoga and Del Mar racetracks. Fourteen wagers must consist of $2 win, place bets and one wager must consist of a $4 win, place bet. The overall winners are the contestants with the most total points combined after both days of the challenge are completed. Separate prizes are awarded on each of the two days for the daily first and second place winners. Each dollar earned is equal to one point, and dollars are earned by horses finishing in either first or second position. The amount of the dollars is based upon the track odds of the horse.

It takes little more than a minute and 10 seconds to run six furlongs. Half way into the race Elivette began to gain ground. At the top of the stretch she drove on the inside—fourth—third—second—dueling for the lead.

Eddie and I picked mostly winners on Friday. At the end of the first day we were well positioned to win the tournament. Eddie picked a long shot on the first race on Saturday and all day long we vied for the top position. If Elivette wins or places, we garner the top prize. If not, we lose by less than $10, but we take second money.

With one furlong left Elivette was driving on the inside rail, only one horse left to pass. She was game—our judgment in Elivette confirmed. The crowd was roaring. And then — Elivette broke her leg.

Eddie, the Horse—Damon Runyon would have loved this guy.•

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Maurer is a shareholder in IBJ Corp., which owns Indianapolis Business Journal.  His column appears every other week. To comment on this column, send e-mail to mmaurer@ibj.com.
 

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