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  July 23, 2010
A Winner by a Nose...


The summer Del Mar racing season has begun. 
Beginning the third Wednesday in July and going to the second Monday in September, the horses meet where the surf meets in the turf.  The races attract sports fans, gamblers, and socialites who bask in the sunshine while they try their hand at handicapping the ponies. 
Now I’m not really a gambler of any sorts but it’s a well-worn tradition among several of my friends to attend the opening day ceremonies of Del Mar.  I truly enjoy watching people pouring over their racing forum, calculating the odds, standing in line to place their bets and then cheering on their horses to win.   
Each year typically I employ a new gambling strategy generally ensuring small wins and losses...don’t bet much...don’t win much...don’t lose much.

Asking others how they choose their wagers is another interesting pastime of mine at the races.  There are those who will tell you that they bet on the grey horse, the one with the cute jockey, the one with the yellow silks, the one with the best times, workouts, jockey or trainer. 
There are also those betting strategies that select their wagers through the process of elimination, never bet on a horse that hasn’t ran in six months, or with an apprentice jockey or who is using blinkers for the first time.
There were over 40,000 racing fans at Del Mar last Wednesday each with their own particular selection and gambling methods and strategies.   They each  had their own reasons for buying what the horse was selling...or rejecting the horse for some apparent flaw or silly superstition.

During the fifth race of the day, a high purse stakes race, there was a particularly close finish among the top 5 horses.  The purse for that race was worth in excess of $50,000.  The race was just over a mile but less that two feet separated the five horses at the finish line. 
What I found particularly interesting was that the winner of the race received 60% of the purse for that race or $30,000 but he finished barely two inches better than the horse that finished second (who received $10,000) and perhaps four inches from the third place horse (who received $5,000) and less than a head in front of the forth and fifth place horses (who received $3,000 and $1,500 respectively). 
Just a few inches over the course of a mile separated a 20-times payoff for the winner versus the horse that finished fifth.

I believe that it’s safe to say that the first place horse in this race was not 20-times better than the fifth place finisher but was rewarded as such. 
All of the horses and jockeys in the race put forth a great effort yet the payout was asymmetrical to the effort.

This phenomenon isn’t just in horse racing. 
I happened to look at the newspaper this morning and noticed that after almost 2500 miles, the leader of the Tour de France was just 8 seconds ahead of the second place rider with two stages yet to be completed. 
One rider will soon be awarded the glory, accolades and riches of the coveted "Yellow Jersey" while the other becomes an afterthought...

8 seconds is all it takes...to separate a winner from a loser...after 2500 miles...

I’m sure the losers in a tight race often will ask themselves...is there a little more that I could have done...a slight amount of additional effort...more preparation...better training...better equipment?

Just some food for thought...
Maybe you’re the one continuing to come in second as others take the big money home...yes it was a good effort...but perhaps also... there might be just a little extra that you can bring to the race to make sure that you’re the one on top and someone else is left wondering...

I was fortunate this year to go home from the races with some more money than I had come with...but more importantly...I had left with a greater appreciation of the second place finishers who tried gallantly but in the end...sometimes lost by a just nose.
Thank you so much for supporting OptiFuse where we try each day to finish on top and bring our customers great returns on their money.

Jim Kalb

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