This past weekend was the Lead Pony Challenge, and The Author did horribly.
In the worst showing to date for Chicago Now, there were six races chosen with zero winners and one second place finish. Blech.
The Author also lost the head-to-head contest by a 8-1 margin. Double blech.
If you had wagered on those selections yourself, you'd have made nothing in terms of win bets. Had you went across the board $2, you'd recoup about thirty percent of your original investment. Triple blech.
It would be lying to say that it felt good to lose. And yes, The Author has got his Saratoga dunce cap on.
However, there will be more races to pick and ponder tomorrow or the next weekend. Arlington Million Day is less than twenty days away, so there's plenty of opportunities in the future.
But what this weekend showed is that it's okay to lose.
Yes, there's the coachspeak of "you play to win the game" and "winning is important". But that's in terms of athletic pursuits. In horse racing and in gambling, winning is still important but there are plenty of outside circumstances at play. Such outside circumstances complicate matters a bit.
Take a $2 win bet. In a ten horse field, that bet has only a ten percent chance of returning any money. And keep in mind, that wager could only yield a return worthy of clinking in the change jar. Trying to maximize profit while minimizing cold streaks is not easy. Even if you branch out into a six dollar investment on win, place, and show, you can try to minimize the valleys but also risk leveling off the peaks.
And given that you've got a ten percent chance to win in a ten horse field, a thirty percent chance to hit the board with that win-place-show wager in a ten horse field; you can infer that you've got a seventy percent chance of losing on across the board, ninety percent for wins.
This stuff ain't easy.
It's still possible to make money at the racetrack. There are ways to make large scores (playing pick 6 pools, syndicates/sharing resources, precise attack points). But there as many ways to lose. Learning how to lose is just as important.
The Author recalls playing contests at Trackside Chicago, losing, and having that #72 bus ride away from the OTB to stew and brood over the money that was going away. What about playing this race and not that race? Why did so-and-so ride like a numbskull? That's losing, sure, but it's even more losing when you go into work on Monday and you've suddenly become The Person No One Wants To Be With.
So ends a foray into Lead Pony Challenge. If the hosts/sponsors want yours truly back, that's fine. And if they don't, that's fine.
So The Author lost. But when life resumes, there might be a dunce cap or a dejected musical interlude. But tomorrow offers another card at Saratoga, another set of chances. Another weekend follows, maybe Arlington looks good.
So those that followed along lost. You can't win all the time. But you can't be angry all the time, either.