We’re still a long way from the sports (and sports betting) world getting back to normal, but we’re as excited as you here at the Tuley’s Takes home office with the return of the UFC, NASCAR and even some golf. There’s also good news with the governors of New York, Texas and California announcing that team sports can resume in the not-so-distant future, and we’re waiting to see what plans develop for the NBA, NHL, MLB and, of course, the NFL and college football.
So there’s reason for optimism that we’ll have “real sports” to handicap sooner rather than later. And we welcomed the chance to break down the NFL season in last week’s “Point Spread Weekly.”
In the meantime, we’re enjoying the fact that horse racing has continued at several tracks during the COVID-19 pandemic. And we were glad that Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita Park were added to the menu Friday and Churchill Downs on Saturday. Unfortunately, our “Tuley’s Thoroughbred Takes” stable of handicappers combined to go 1-for 22 last week in our column at VSiN.com after two straight profitable weeks. We saw a couple of the inevitable Twitter trolls, but we were proud that far more followers offered words of support, such as:
— @east_coast_cb: “It’s called horse racing, one tough game.”
— @19_isles: “It’s a marathon for those of us that love doing this every day, never a sprint. Keep swinging, Dave.”
— @cowboys_cubs1 (after I posted that we were 1-for-18 heading into Sunday): “And you could have also went 2-for-18 and made a profit during that span.”
It’s encouraging that most of our readers get it. Yes, it takes just one long shot to make up for all those losers. Besides, most readers understand we’re trying to offer live horses every day for readers to use with their own handicapping. We’re not guaranteeing winners or calling these locks. In fact, we’re usually trying to beat the favorites, so slumps like this recent one are inevitable. And as I’ve written before, slumps happen even for people picking favorites, but without the potential upside.
Even when our horses come up short, I’ve received several thank-you notes from people who have used our picks with their own to hit trifectas and superfectas. The great thing about horse racing is that you can cash in even when you’re not totally right.
“Thanks for your pick of Juan Pablo at Tampa Bay Downs (May 9, Race 8) as I hit the superfecta 2.5 times for $716.70,” wrote Kevin Mason. “I never would have used him if not for your pick, so keep up the great work.”
“Please pass on my thanks to John Lauro,” wrote Stacey Caldwell. “I know his top pick of Venetian Harbor in the Fantasy Stakes (May 1, Oaklawn Race 9) didn’t win, but his second choice Swiss Skydiver helped me cash the exacta for $96 and the tri for $300. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.”
Since we’re hearing from so many readers, let’s include some racing one-liners, especially ones that include handicapping advice, sent in during recent weeks.
— “Win or bust.” Shaun O’Neill added: “Betting to place and show is for losers. In the long run, you’re better off betting more to win because you’ll make more than the times you cash place and show. I don’t care if my horses finish second or last.” Tuley noted: I mostly subscribe to this theory, though I do bet place more than I should. And, of course, when I have a winner, my first thought is that I should have also bet all my place money to win.
— “Better to bet a horse too early than too late.” Richard Kelly added: “I learned this from you, Dave, on the radio in Las Vegas with Ralph Siraco or with John Kelly (no relation), Gordon Jones or the late, great Patrick McQuiggan. You talked about betting on a horse before everyone else gets on the bandwagon.” Tuley noted: That saying was in response to handicappers and bettors who say things like “This horse needs a race after his layoff” or “I need to see this horse race on turf first” or “I need to see if they can go the distance.” The problem is that if a horse wins that first time trying something new, it will be a much lower price the next time. It’s better to figure out if a horse will do well and bet it right away, even losing a bet or two, instead of waiting until he proves it and you’re too late to profit.
We’ll conclude with four sayings from Scott Smith via email that I found very inspirational:
— “We started first and finished last.” Smith added: “This is from my father Charlie, who bet on horses from his 20s till he passed in the 1990s. It comes from a longer saying: ‘The night was clear, the track was fast, we started first and finished last.’ ” Tuley noted: We interpret this as a warning against betting cheap speed, which is a good reminder. I love to find lone speed horses to steal a race at big odds. However, we need to be selective and take those shots on quality horses who are capable of carrying that speed wire to wire and not on cheap horses that are more likely to fade to last after a half-mile or so.
— “Don’t bet against me.” Smith added: “This is from my Uncle Sam, who drove harness horses at Yonkers during the heyday. A shortened version of ‘I’ll never tell you to bet on me, but don’t bet against me.’ ” Tuley noted: Preach, brother!
— “Strike when the iron’s hot.” Smith added: “When you’re having a good day, keep firing.” Tuley noted: Amen.
— “May the horse be with you.” Tuley noted: And also with you!