Thursday, March 22, 2007

the Superfecta | by Jay

When I lived in LA, I used to go to Hollywood Park and Santa Anita a few times a year with a buddy of mine Kevin who was big into horse racing. It was through him I learned some of the intricacies of deciphering a racing form, which opened up a floodgate of information on which to base a wager. Soon it wasn't enough to simply consider how cool the horse's name was (a system I had used confidently -- if not profitably -- until that time); now I was looking at things like track conditions, lineage, who was the breeder and the trainer, was the race longer or shorter than what the horse was used to, fractional times, does he break early or late, and whether the horse seemed "focused" when we would run down to the paddock between races to take a look. (Kevin insisted a horse was "focused" when his hind hoof would step directly into the same space that his front hoof had just vacated. I insisted Kevin was full of crap, but he seemed to put some importance on the idea. Soon I was doing it too, trying to glean some gambler's edge from interpreting sneezes and whinnies in the paddock roundup. This is not unlike looking at five minutes of grainy practice videos emanating out of Loftus and insisting that a player looks "good" or "bad".)

Handicapping this quarterback race is a little like those nights at Hollywood Park, and I'm busy piecing together my own racing form (of sorts). For starters, some foundational, historical stuff: two really nice pieces by Lou Somogyi documenting QB derbies gone by: "QB Battles and Results", and "Gold Standard Not Always Based on Glitter".