Monday, August 6, 2012

The final contest

 One of the few things my father and I have an understanding is with horse racing. When I was a kid I would enjoy going with him and he did not usually mind having to pay an extra $2 for me to get in. To me handicapping horse racing is a study in applied math and I remember many times at the now torn down Sportsman's Park and the still operating Hawthorne Race Course next store.

Summer at Sportsman's was my favorite time as it was the big harness meet. We would go about 3 to 4 times a month and those nights in Cicero are now missed by me since the park closed.

In late 1986, my father's boss started to get involved with owning harness horses and he had moderate success. One day in May 1987 my dad come home from work excited. His boss with two others bought a potential 3 year old champ named Call Me Sir N (the N stood for New Zealand bred).

In late May of 1987, Call Me Sir in its first race went straight to the lead and won by 5 lengths and then the same way won three more coming within 1/5 sec of the 3 yr old track record of 1:55. Those races had purses (money given to the top 5 finishers of the race) starting at $8,000 and going to $10,000. The owners decided to enter the horse in the American National 3 year old pace (purse $250,000) against Jate Lobell, the best horse in the country. I looked on You Tube and there is a video of the race held on July 3, 1987.

Even if Call Me Sir did not have a difficult time gaining the lead in the race, it still would have not had a chance. Because the driver tried to win the race, the horse was exhausted by the top of the stretch and ended up 6th.

Here is a winner's circle picture taken exactly 24 years ago today in 1988 when the horse posted its best career winning time of 1:55. A significantly thinner contacts wearing 22 year old version of me is on the right next to my father.

Three Saturdays ago, I visited my father and could tell something was not right. He has deteriorated over the past 10 years but this was not good. We wanted to take him to the emergency room but he would not go until the last race from Arlington was shown on tv since he has bets made. When we got to the hospital and opened the door, he vomited his dinner and would not stop vomiting or hiccuping the next 4 hours. The next day my mom told my sisters and I what was happening: We knew he had a tumor removed from his back but we did not know he has cancer on his vocal chords and GI tract and he is too ill for any treatment. He was released 5 days later and has hospice care during the week at the house.

Knowing that him being involved with horse racing is what he looks forward to do, I offered to go to the race track on the following Saturday, July 28th, to make the bets for him. I also decided to make bets at Arlington and compare the results as one final father/son horse racing handicapping challenge.

The night before, I stopped at an off track betting place, got the next day's program and studied it grateful that I have bifocals and decided what to bet. I placed my bets Saturday morning at a place near my house and drove to my parents house to collect his money, make his bets at Hawthorne and then watch the races with him on the horse racing channel. Here is a chart of the results: (click on the pic for a closer view)

To summarize, I lost 8% fewer on my wagers than he did and would have done a little better had both of us just played $2 to win on every horse had in the bets.

I went again last Saturday and made bets for my father for Arlington, I played the harness card at the Meadowlands in New Jersey since it was the biggest day in harness racing. I won a couple of races while I was there and played others to watch on tv with him later. The last race I bet was the US Pacing Championship, a race that was held at Sportsman's Park and moved to New Jersey after Sportsman's closed.

1 comment:

Matt said...

How fortunate that you've been able to share one of the things you and your Dad enjoy most at this tough time. Best to your family.