Lone Star Park, Grande Prairie, TX, Feb. 18, 2001

It was a day like any other in Simulcast City, a dark, dreary, and humorless day. At this simulcast pavilion in a major metroplex, the words f*ck and sh*t were overheard a great deal from the humorless unsmiling patrons, as befits a house of dark and drear.

As the horses enter the stretch at Simulcast Downs, whichever Simulcast Downs happens to be up on one of the two big screens up front, the crowd shows a bit of life, and begins to exhort their favorite. "C'mon 4! Get up there 4!", and "Stay up there 2! Whip the sh*t out of that 2, you f*cking pinhead!" Whenever the outcome is apparent, however, only one word is heard: F*ck. Everyone has been f*cked, it seems. Losing tickets are torn.

These words are popular near the mutuel machines as unsmiling players purchase new tickets, too. If anyone is actually winning or having any fun at that place, you'd never know. But that they are cursing, there is never a question.

That's how my day is going, as well, but for a different reason. The first five races on the card at Fair Grounds pretty much s*cked. Why it is that whenever I play FG they have to card a whole bunch of Louisiana-bred maiden claimers is a mystery, as I am always reading about the great racing at FG. Somehow I am cursed to always play that track the wrong day. Not that maiden claimers are necessarily bad, but these just aren't real good ones. It's like one pretty obvious horse, two obvious other contenders, and then a bunch of nothing. The rest of Simulcast World sees it too. The odds on horses I like s*ck. Turn the page to the next crummy race.

I amuse myself doing things like betting the $2 Kelly Sampson Fan Club show bet (Kelly comes 4th in the 1st), and the $1 Kelly Sampson/Zoe Cadman exacta box in the 5th (Kelly comes 3rd with Zoe Cadman in 4th, Kelly paying $12.90 to show but of course I didn't have a show bet on that one), just biding my time till a race comes along worthy of my considerable and powerful handicapping skills. Sh*t. What a dark and dreary day. It is time for a beer.

Dark, that is, until the 6th, when the sun suddenly shone in on the metroplex pavilion and the FG card. 7-1/2f turf race, big field, non-winners of two lifetime allowance, and wonder of wonders, a favorite at 1-5 on the board with the other 9 participants all in double digits at first click. There is no such a thing as a 1-5 horse in a 10 horse N2L race in the McChump book, and especially not a 1-9 horse as he soon became. This is what we call in The World According to McChump "a money-makin' opportunity", one to light up one's eyes (the beer not having yet done it). Of course the trick is beating that favorite, but in a race like this it is so sooooooo easy.

InstaCapping(tm), cross-out-the-wannabees approach, quickly revealed that all but four horses in the race were fakes, with previous turf failures, bad numbers, no inherent turf breeding, and so on. What's left were the favorite #8 Sky Mart - a legitimate contender mind you - plus the 5 horse Ispeakasiplease, the 9 horse Herecomesdafuzz, and the 4 King Corley, a sprinter just graduated from a maiden claimer who'd never tried the turf or the distance, but who was in good form and had breeding to suggest both turf and distance. And who had speed, odds over 20-1, and hadn't lost nearly so many as lots of these. You must include a horse like that. It's a rule.

Thus I was all over that race like stink on a junebug. 4-5-9 to win. 4-5-9 over favorite exactas. And just in case I was mistaken, which rarely happens, favorite/4-5-9/4-5-9 tri saver.

Just like you see it in your mind. The #1 Haveyouseensonny, a sprinter fake, went to the lead with King Corley in hot pursuit. Haveyouseensonny died on the 2nd turn according to plan, and King Corley took a comfortable lead into the stretch. Meanwhile, the favorite, Sky Mart was stuck in traffic. Yee haw! Payday a comin'.

But Robbie got Sky Mart shook loose, steered him inside, and quickly caught and passed King Corley in deep stretch. Sh*t! And then seemed to give up. D*mn! With a mighty bound King Corley and Lanerie surged back even with the favorite and they hit the wire together, heads a bobbin' and ... photo. A long, long, drawn out one. It didn't matter to me that I'd have the tri if the favorite won, as the 5 had come 3rd. I wanted that longshot winner. That is SOOOOOO much more rewarding.

Then the numbers went up, 4-8-5-3, $51.80 winner and $97.80 exacta payable to me Me ME! The Texas sun shone brightly in the metroplex simulcast pavilion from that moment forth. D*mn! I got me a $52 winner! Not a accident, or anything!

From then on I could do little wrong, even managing the $14.80 place payoff saver on Gracie's Dancer in the Risen Star, though it was much more exciting holding a win ticket also there for a minute until Dollar Bill came a-flying at the end. I could have kicked myself after this one, for sure as the Sun God drives his chariot into the sky from the east each morning, except that one day he let Phaethon drive, the favorite/longshot quinella came in at WAY over the $1 exacta box price, and I hadn't laid a quinella bet. In the 8th I cashed again, but not real big. I was definitely having a good day. And fun cursing, too.

Just after or before the FG 8th I decided a break and another beer were in order, and repaired to the back of the room. While there I glanced up at the Turf Paradise monitor to see if I recognized any names. They weren't showing any names, but they were showing odds history for their 5th. That 5 horse, now that one's interesting, just jumps out at me ... been down as low as 8-1, but now 30-1. Should I? Naw, I shouldn't. What a waste of money. I don't know anything about him/her or the race. Or should I? After all, I can do no wrong. I swear, if I could just see that horse in the post parade, he/she would probably wink at me.

Oh what the h*ll - I'm way ahead. A little WP bet on the 5. Just for fun. And head for the beer stand.

Arriving back at my carrel and rejoining the McChump Party, the TuP 5th was just finishing up. The horses are running down the stretch. This one horse has a huge, unbeatable lead. And, what's this, chump? That saddle cloth looks to be of a definite green hue! It is! The five has won it!

Desperately I watched for the odds as the horse slowed down and turned back for the Winner's Circle. There - "off odds" 30-1. The king! I'm the king! Desperately I searched the channels on the carrel TV to find the TuP signal and the payoffs. A beautiful $70.60/$28.00 WP, on my horse the 5, whose name turns out to be Very Contrary. An expletive that cannot be reproduced here escaped my lips.

While the other patrons continued shuffling about, muttering their sh*ts and f*cks, I was laughing my a** off. I was having a VERY good day.

And a steak dinner bought with other people's money never tasted so good.