My Old Kentucky Homesite

Two Dollars on Wallberg to Show Up

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 04/05/2010

Sorry I’m late. My wife and I had company this weekend, so I didn’t have much of a chance to get my dander up over the fact that the Lexington Herald-Leader wasted about half its pages on mumbo-jumbo stories about some holiday that nobody ever heard of. Instead, I spent the last few days partaking of Kentucky. Our party went for a scenic drive, took a tour of a bourbon distillery, and — of course — spent an afternoon watching thoroughbreds run fast while people in fancy outfits yelled at them.

I’m not much of a horse-player. However, since I found myself at the races during Holy Week, I decided I’d better follow the advice of a real gambler, my grandfather’s friend Blaise Pascalowitz.

You must wager. It is not optional. A day at the races is just a sunburn for nothing if you do not take a chance. (Also, don’t forget to treat yourself to some tootsie-frootsie ice cream.) Could you lose enough to keep you from buying a $5 racetrack beer? Yes; but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to lose, some of your money and the rest of your money; and two things to stake, a picture of Andrew Jackson (who, believe me, was no raving beauty that you need to carry around his image in your pocket) and the assurance that you’ll have enough to purchase a watered-down Bud Light. You must of necessity choose. This is one point settled. But what of your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that your horse will win. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all your money back plus maybe a few extra bucks if it was a longshot; if you lose, you kiss, what?, twenty dollars goodbye . Hell, it’s not like you’re gonna die before there’s another race.

The rest of Pascalowitz’s advice is meaningless, because he never won a dime in his life.

So I was torn. On the one hand, I could pick my ponies by using a highly mathematical system that involved adding up every number I could find on the racing form, dividing the total by the amount of dollars I’ve made since 1997, and factoring out my allergy to hay. On the other hand, I could just go with the time-tested Eeny Method. Or, if I had three hands, I could fold two of them in prayer, and leave my fate to the emptiness above.

Eventually, I decided to employ the HTSLMKH (pronounced Hotz Lemkhah, which might be Yiddish for “mazel tov”) Principle. Some scholars believe the far-fetched theory that the capitalized word is an acronym for “Hey, That Sounds Like My Kinda Horse.”

Regardless of etymology (and entomolgy, too, for those who are bugged by puns), I’m going to give all my readers a chance to experience for themselves the thrill of a genuine Kentucky racing day. Below, in alphabetical order, are listed four horses from each race I saw. One horse was the winner; two others were selected at random from among the non-winners; the fourth is the loser I bet on. The races were real, so it’s not fair Googling to find out the results.

The Rules: For each race, write the letter of the horse you believe was the winner, followed by the letter of the nag you think stole my two bucks. You earn a point for each animal identified correctly. The person with the score that comes closest to 20 will earn eternal salvation or a leftover Peep, whichever lasts longer.

Race 1: (A) Nacho Man, (B) Speed Demon, (C) Weekend Wildcat, (D) Wetzel
Race 2: (A) Despite the Odds, (B) Hull, (C) Southern Exchange, (D) Taqarub
Race 3: (A) Flying Warrior, (B) Mr. Realistic, (C) Straight Talk, (D) W.W. Lady’s Man
Race 4: (A) Intercoastal, (B) Motown Shuffle, (C) Old Man Buck, (D) Runaway Banjo
Race 5: (A) Harpoon Hattie, (B) Heaven’s Grace, (C) Hit It Rich, (D) Wicked Ravnina
Race 6: (A) Argue, (B) Kantstopdancin, (C) Sheza Sweet Lemon, (D) Smarty’s Dream
Race 7: (A) Gypsy Baby, (B) Magic Broomstick, (C) Paradise Bound, (D) Tempo Approved
Race 8: (A) Fish, (B) Flight, (C) Krypton, (D) Sporty
Race 9: (A) King Ledley, (B) Lost Aptitude, (C) Nordic Truce, (D) Strike the Tiger
Race 10: (A) Dignified Air, (B) Everybody Lies, (C ) Lady Etienne, (D) Laura’s Cat Tales

I’ll add my commentary below when entries start to arrive.

[And they’re off. Evo broke wind sharply as first out of the starting gate. Srsny pulled ahead on the inside track. GoingLikeSixty went like eighty-divided-by-twenty to keep pace at the rear. SI rose quickly and looked for a hole, but he couldn’t find one. Chappy thought she hadn’t a prayer, but she collared the rest of the flock, and soon lorded it over the leader. Des scoped out a good spot for himself, but turned in a borderline performance.]

17 Responses to “Two Dollars on Wallberg to Show Up”

  1. John Evo said

    I just want to guess the ones you bet on: A, D, C, B, D, C, B, A, B

    I claim 3 or 4 to be a victory. 5-6 outstanding, 7-8, the fix is in, 9 – Pure psychic 10 – A touch of The Almighty

    2 or less and I’m not allowed to comment for a week. You win, even if you lost at the track.

  2. John Evo said

    Sorry! I only picked 9. In the 7th race, I’ll take “D” (Tempo Approved) the last 3 of my picks being the 8th, 9th and 10th races.

    And automatic -1 from my total score for the fuckup, meaning there is no deity intervening! I’m still going for that “Pure Psycho”. Err… “Psychic”!

  3. srsny said

    I am disappointed that you did not include the full list of horses for each race, in the order of their pole position, because the only way I know how to pick horses is my mother’s method. Once, as a child, I went to the race track with my parents (and a group of their friends). The men made all their bets by intense analysis of the statistics – along with much loud arguing. The women – who were making their choices along with much loud laughing – seemed to be having more fun, so I studied their method: recite the alphabet as you point at each horse’s name in order of their pole position. When the letter you are saying corresponds with the first name of the horse- that becomes your choice. By the end of the day – the men were losers, and the women were winners.

    When not using my mother’s foolproof method, my alternative theory always had something to do with either “Ooh, I like that horse’s name” or “Ooh, isn’t that a pretty horse” and sometimes “Ooh I love the color the jockey is wearing.” Also, because I once knew the woman Riva for whom the horse Riva Ridge was named, I always choose any horse that has either Riva or Ridge in its name.

    Unfotunately, your list gives me only the “I like that name” method – my favorite name will be my win choice (first letter); my pick for your choice will be based on my knowledge of how your mind works (second letter):

    1. D Wetzel(because I love the dancer Damian Woetzel)
    A Nacho Man(because it has put the earworm Macho Man in my head)

    2. C Southern Exchange (because it sounds like it could be a Howard Hawks movie about intrigue in the South Pacific)
    D Taqarub (because it sounds like a cryptic crossword clue)

    3. A Flying Warrior (because it could be one of those John Wayne airplane movies)
    B Mr. Realistic (reason too obvious to note here)

    4. D Runaway Banjo (makes me think of the Jimmy Durante character in “The Man Who Came to Dinner.”)
    A Intercoastal (well, it makes ME think of Florida, so maybe you would pick it)

    5. A Harpoon Hattie (my first thought: “…starring Marjorie Main”)
    D Wicked Ravnina (sounds like another cryptic clue)

    6. D Smarty’s Dream (this one was hard – B and C were far too annoyingly cute, and I had to save “Argue” for your choice, so my choice is just process of elimination – although I could see this as a title of a Prestion Sturges movie)
    A Argue (obvious reason)

    7. A Gypsy Baby (makes me think of Ethel Merman)
    D Tempo Approved (anything musical)

    8. C Krypton (because of my longterm and sincere love for all things Superman)
    A Fish (because it sounds the least like a horse)

    9. B Lost Aptitude (Billy Wilder directs Ray Milland in a movie about a man who turns 60 and can’t figure out why he has to rock three times to get up from the couch, then can’t remember why he got up)
    A King Ledley (all three of the remaining anwers sounded like cryptic clues; I can’t remember why I chose this one)

    10 A Dignified Air (OK, it isn’t “independent air” but it still made me think of “The Man Who Broke the Bank in Monte Carlo” – which thankfully got “Macho Man” out of my head!)
    B Everybody Lies (skeptic’s likely choice)

    I understand this year they intruduced new orange peeps. Would love to try one.

  4. I choose B for all.
    See any hot chicks?
    I go to NASCAR, you go to Keeneland. Ridiculous? Meet Sublime.
    I saw four hot chicks – all in the Cameltoe tent.

  5. Evo:
    A moving performance, pure physic! You earned 4 points. I didn’t deduct anything from the late entry because my Windows were (was?) still opened.

    Nicely done. Your picks earned 7 points. After reading your explanations, I’m sorry I didn’t think more deeply about some of my bets. Apparently, you know me better than I do.

    Oh, hot chicks galore. It was opening day, so almost all the women were out there with their low-cut summer dresses and pearls. However, most of the guys looked like swine.

    Amazingly, you picked a letter that fell statistically below the average. So, you earned 4 points.

  6. If I was to guess what you guessed I’d guess the following:


    As for the actual winners, B,B,C,D,C,C,D,B,B,C

    There’s such a thing as a Cameltoe tent?

  7. SI:
    You’ve earned 6 points. You might have done even better if you’d spent more time handicapping and less time looking for a nonexistent structure.

  8. I beat Evo, and that was my (secret, unannounced) goal, so I win!

  9. SI:
    I beat Evo …
    You’re right. But perhaps you’d rather be pulling up the rear.

  10. the chaplain said

    Srsny’s alternative method looks a lot like my only method; her mother’s foolproof method sounds like more work than I want to do at a race track. I tend to focus primarily on the names, then the jockey colors and then, as a last resort, the horse’s appearance. Since horses all look alike to me, I have difficulty deciding which one actually looks better than another.

    Since I’m not the least bit inclined to cross-tabulate the previous answers to see if I can figure out some of the right answers that have already been derived, I’ll just toss out some answers, based solely on the criterion of name appeal. I’ll note that, since I can’t see either the jockey colors or the horses, I’m seriously handicapped here. Not that I’m complaining…

    Race 1: (B) Speed Demon, (C) Weekend Wildcat
    Race 2: (D) Taqarub, (A) Despite the Odds
    Race 3: (A) Flying Warrior, (D) W.W. Lady’s Man
    Race 4: (D) Runaway Banjo, (B) Motown Shuffle
    Race 5: (C) Hit It Rich, (D) Wicked Ravnina
    Race 6: (B) Kantstopdancin, D) Smarty’s Dream
    Race 7: (A) Gypsy Baby, (D) Tempo Approved
    Race 8: (A) Fish, C) Krypton
    Race 9: (C) Nordic Truce, (A) King Ledley
    Race 10: (C ) Lady Etienne, (B) Everybody Lies

    I’m betting that I scored even lower than Evo (which is why (if you recall) I only gambled pennies and nickels in Vegas a couple of years ago).

  11. Chappy:
    You earned a remarkable 10 points! Maybe you should up your Las Vegas bets to quarters.

  12. Susannah Roitman said

    I would have made a comment if the prize had been a bialy.

  13. Susannah:
    Now where the hell am I gonna find a decent bialy in Lexington? How about an onion Peep?

  14. John Evo said

    SI – I got 4 of 10. You got 6 of 20. Hell, I didn’t want to do the easy part of the test!

  15. The only bet I’d wager is on the leftover peep.

  16. I imagine the winners have names that sound like low-end street drugs:

    Race 1: (B) Speed Demon – standard ephedra with a sprinkling of meth
    Race 2: (D) Taqarub – a paint-based inhalant mixed with and applied like Vicks vaporub
    Race 3: (A) Flying Warrior – ingredients unknown
    Race 4: (D) Runaway Banjo – meth taken whilst performing unnatural acts on livestock
    Race 5: (D) Wicked Ravnina – vodka, Tabasco sauce, and expired baby food
    Race 6: (B) Kantstopdancin – straight morphine. It’s supposed to be ironic.
    Race 7: (B) Magic Broomstick – marijuana joint rolled in bible paper.
    Race 8: (C) Krypton – ingredients unknown; user awakens with inexplicable attraction to Jimmy Olsen
    Race 9: (C) Nordic Truce – ingredients unknown; unrestrained users invariably sack their neighbors, then return loot
    Race 10: (C) Lady Etienne – fruit cocktail and sterno; causes lace and frills

    I think Larry probably chose names appropriate for “wacky sitcom neighbor”:

    Race 1: (D) Wetzel
    Race 2: (B) Hull
    Race 3: (D) W.W. Lady’s Man
    Race 4: (C) Old Man Buck
    Race 5: (A) Harpoon Hattie
    Race 6: (D) Smarty’s Dream
    Race 7: (A) Gypsy Baby
    Race 8: (A) Fish
    Race 9: (A) King Ledley
    Race 10: (C) Lady Etienne

  17. Philly:
    The only bet I’d wager is on the leftover peep.
    Yes, but what if you’re wrong? What if there is no leftover Peep, only an eternity of jellybeans?

    You earned 8 points. That’s pretty damn good for a guy who usually only picks restaurants.
    FYI: Flying Warrior is one part meth, two parts Ex-Lax.
    I’ll keep in mind your suggestion for choosing winners in case I ever see a horse named Eddie Haskell or Mrs. Odetts.

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