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Betting on Nags that can’t breathe

By T.J. Simers

Welcome to the home of the cheaters where the surf meets the turf and everybody is played for a sucker.

Only took about 18 hours to drive from Orange County to Del Mar.

Beautiful day. Not as hot as everywhere else. Shockingly on a Thursday mobs of people. The daughter, Grocery Store Bagger and the four grandkids were here for our annual get together, the kiddos a little taller, tanner and happy to escape the blistering Arizona heat.

I didn’t mind it at all when our seven-year-old grand girl named Buster joined me for ice cream, the sticky, gooey, ice cream falling from my cone into my lap while she wanted me to catch the drips from her cone.

“Every man for themselves,” I told her. I know this, I wasn’t going to spoil our chance to just sit there on a bench discussing the ups and downs of second grade.

Friends mattered most to her, her fave landing in her same class so all was right in the world. Meanwhile, a few feet away were a lot of young, very enthusiastic people in line waiting to get wristbands so they could get served alcohol all day long. Some were even 21 or older.

I looked. Our 18-year-old granddaughter was not in line.

When it came to the horse racing, I had already done my handicapping although I am more convinced than ever the races are fixed. I couldn’t be that wrong in my selections.

I have to tell you about the fifth race. The 7 and the 11 were locks. OK, so 4 won, and maybe I was little off in my handicapping. But it was the second-place horse, the 9 that demands an investigation.

First question: Was Bob Baffert anywhere near No. 9?

I immediately emailed Jay Posner, the former sports editor of the San Diego Union-Tribune asking him to contact one of the reporters who used to work for him to look into it.

I explained that No. 9 had run only once before, in Kentucky last year, at odds of 33-1, finishing ninth of 10 horses. Now this was his second race, 10-1 on the morning line, but shortly before the race began he went to 5 to 2, the third betting choice in the field of 12. Very fishy.

No. 9 was trained by Vladimir Cerin, known around the track by some as Vladimir Syringe, and a number of years ago I wrote about how he was fleecing the public. One of his horses could not breathe properly while running so they performed surgery to allow him to breathe and run better, but as he said at the time they were under no obligation to tell the public.

Now wouldn’t you feel stupid betting a horse that couldn’t breathe?

How about learning a horse’s problem has been fixed and now he can breathe? Seems like something everyone should be told with money involved.

No idea if that was the case in this situation, but obviously some of Syringe’s friends, excuse me, Cerin’s pals had good reason to bet so much and make No. 9 a 5-2 choice for no mapparent reason.

Do you think those betting on No. 9 were told something that most of the betting public were not privy to when placing their wagers?

Coming down the stretch it was No. 4 and No. 9 neck and neck, No. 4 prevailing, but No. 9 ruining any trifecta or exacta wagers, therefore the quick note to Posner who never answered. And he was at the track, too, for all I know sitting next to Syringe, excuse me, Cerin.

I don’t mind losing; I do it all the time. But racing is losing me, and the sport is in an ugly place, tracks closing and top-of-the-line trainers like Baffert forbidden to train in Kentucky.

Looking at all those people at Del Mar Thursday I realized almost none of them had access to inside information, thereby making them fools for a day. Come to Del Mar, you fool.

I think I understand now why so many youngsters were in line to get wristbands. This sport really will drive you to drink.

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