When I was asked to take over the horse racing beat toward the end of my 30-plus years as a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times, suddenly people were asking me what horses were going to win, as if I knew.
I would say that I may be writing about horse racing, but I was not a handicapper, that I rarely read the past performances in the Daily Racing Form and I was the last person to ask.
But somehow I have had the correct exacta wager in both last year's Breeders' Cup Classic, the Super Bowl of horse racing, and Saturday's 138th Kentucky Derby.
I wrote in Patch that my play would be . The good news is that is how they finished. The bad news I never got around to making that exacta bet.
(In horse racing parlance, an exacta bet is one in which you pick the first two horses in correct order.)
A $2 bet would have earned me $306.60. As they say in horse racing, "Woulda, shoulda, coulda."
My selection wasn't very scientific. I selected I'll Have Another to win because I had recently told my favorite bartender, Cynthia Naanough, who works at the "I'll Have Another." And I picked Bodemeister to finish second because his jockey, Mike Smith, is dating Cynthia.
For background, it should be noted that the owner of I'll Have Another, Paul Reddam, likes to say that name has nothing to do with drinking. He told me that the joke is that whenever his wife bakes a patch of cookies, he'll keep telling her, "I'll Have Another."
But back to Cynthia Naanough. A mutual friend, Al Snow, told me in early 2011 that Cynthia's youngest sister, Samantha, had been going through a difficult battle with cancer and that Samantha was a huge Lakers fan. Al volunteered his season tickets if I would take Cynthia, Samantha and their father to a Laker game and, with my connections, see if I could get any photos of Samantha with celebrities.
I wasn't sure how that was going to go, but it went great. We got photos of Samantha with Jack Nicholson, Maria Shriver, Bill O'Reilly, and Andy Garcia, among others.
As for picking the exacta for last year's Breeders' Cup Classic, my hunch play also involved Smith and a romantic interest, or in this case a former romantic interest. I boxed my exacta bet, meaning I was covered both ways as long as my two picks finished first and second. I picked Drosselmeyer, a horse ridden by Smith, and Game on Dude, who was ridden by his former fiancee, Chantal Sutherland.
Drosselmeyer won and Game On Dude finished second, resulting in a $444.80 payoff on a $2 exacta bet.
Now I just have to figure out if I've got a system going here, or if I've just been lucky. I'm afraid it is the latter.