There are few professional golfers on the PGA circuit who fly higher than Phil Mickelson. A native of San Diego, CA., Phil learned to play golf from his father, a commercial airline pilot. He graduated from San Diego High School and attended Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. on a golf scholarship. There he set the collegiate golf world on fire with his sizzling play. Mickelson loves risk. At ASU his daring golf shots won him three NCAA individual championships and many other titles. At age 20, hw won a tournament and decided he wanted to be a professional golfer.
Michael Phelps was born in Baltimore, MD. His father was a Maryland State Trooper. He was only seven when he first jumped into a swimming pool. Today the lanky, square-jawed swimmer is the possessor of 28 Olympic medals, most of them gold. He has won scores of international medals for his speed and stamina as a swimmer. He is controversial, as his record with the police in Rio De Janiero at the 2016 Summer Olympics proves. And he loves playing big stakes poker.
One of the pleasant things about living in Yerington, NV., a small mining town 70 miles south of Reno, was the fact that the community's two casinos offered baseball betting. Now I have always been a baseball fan. I followed the Pittsburgh Pirates when I was growing up in Sutersville, about 19 miles south of Pittsburgh. And when I moved to Phoenix, AZ., I switched allegiance and became an Arizona Diamondback fan. I was only in Yerington about three weeks. But during that time, I spent many enjoyable hours at the casinos making wagers on baseball games -- and winning.
Horse racing has been nicknamed the 'sport of Kings.' In the case of the Queen Mother who died on March 30, 2002, it should have been named the sport of Queens. Queen Elizabeth, a wise beloved ruler who remained faithfully married to her husband for nearly 30 years until his death, was a woman of the people. She drank gin, played the horses, owned a stable of thoroughbred race horses, and greeted old men who sneezed with 'God bless you' as her carriage passed them.
There is little doubt in my mind that the ultimate system for betting on thoroughbred race horses can be summed up in two words: Andrew Beyer. Beyer, a former columnist for the Washington Post, created the Beyer Rating System more than 30 years ago. It is a speed rating system that takes into consideration many factors that are far too complex for me to delve into in a single column. Suffice it to say Beyer did his homework. A fan of horse racing from his youth, he studied horses deeper than any handicapper in the history of horse racing.
Okay, you have made up your mind. You are going to be a horse player. You live near an off-track betting site and you think you have mastered the techniques of horse handicapping. That's fine. Now you take your hard-earned cash and head for the site to earn some money. Before you make your wagers, there are a couple of questions I would like to pose to you. First, what track do you intend to play? If your answer is 'All of them,' I would strongly urge you to put on the brakes. Such a response is not acceptable.
When I was a child growing up in a coal patch in Western Pennsylvania, my brothers and I had a weekly date at the Sutersville Theater. There for .25 cents (popcorn was extra) we could watch movies. Our favorites were shoot-em-up westerns, comedies and anything starring Mickey Rooney. One of my favorite Mickey Rooney films was about horse racing. He was a poor kid who somehow ended up owning a race horse. The plot involved a list of colorful characters, the training and of course the big race where everything was on the line.
One of my favorite hobbies is deep sea fishing. Anybody who has ever fished for the big ones on a boat in the middle of the ocean knows the value of patience. A beginning fisherman will strike the moment a fish nibbles at his hook. Not the seasoned angler. He gives the fish time to really chomp down on the bait -- that is when he sets the hook. More often than not, he will land the big fish while the beginner comes up empty. Now a fish doesn't live to record sizes because it is dumb. It becomes as wily and shrewd as the person trying to catch it.
A newspaper reporter crosses the paths of many people in a lifetime. They come in many different ranges from the good to the bad and the ugly. Audie Murphy was one of the good ones. I was working as a court reporter for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner in 1970 when I met Murphy. The Burbank Police had charged him with assault and battery for pistol-whipping a dog trainer named David Goffstein after the trainer had insulted his girl friend.
Over the years as a freelance magazine writer, I have interviewed quite a few country western stars. Not trying to be a name dropper, but they have included Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Glen Campbell, George Jones and a rock star named Elvis. The one who escaped me was Mel Tillis. He recorded one of my favorite country western songs, 'Faster Horses, Younger Women, Older Whiskey.' I shall never forgive myself for failing to meet Mel when he was in his prime. Horse players, and I have been one, love faster horses. And who doesn't enjoy the company of younger women?
Michael Phelps, also known as the flying fish, just may be the greatest athlete of all time. A native of Baltimore, MD., Phelps, now 31, has competed in and won numerous gold medals in four Olympic competitions starting in 2004. He has broken world records right and left starting when he was 15. He used $1 million of his winnings to start a foundation in his name to help young swimmers and to promote a healthy lifestyle for young people. It might be added that he did all these things while being arrested twice for driving under the influence of alcohol and being photographed smoking marijuana in a bong.
As a gadabout journalist and adventurer, I have traveled quite a bit. Not nearly as much as I have wanted to, but I have spent memorable hours, days, months and even years in such desirable locations as Mexico's Sea of Cortez, Hawaii, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and the Caribbean. I have always learned more about life and myself than I have ever taught the population of these countries, although a lot of give and take has gone on. In the Caribbean, I learned about diving for pearls. I danced to reggae music and ate conch salads.
Somebody once said every man should own a boat and a horse in his lifetime. While I have been a passenger on many boats, I have never owned one. Oh, I came close to buying one after winning a poker tournament in Florida, but the deal never came through. As for horses, I wrote a while back on this website about Rincon, a thoroughbred race horse that had been retired because of being blinded in one eye when it ran into a wall while training for a race. Rincon was a beautiful red roan, intelligent and devastatingly fast.
When I started my life as a newspaper reporter, all my journalist friends and I wanted to be like Ernest Hemingway or Damon Runyon. Both were hard-drinking adventurous types who liked to gamble. Hemingway was a robust virile man who was in love with beautiful women. Runyon followed in his footsteps and was also a two-pack a day cigarette smoker that eventually made him lose his life to throat cancer.
Indian Castle Race Track on the island of Nevis in the Eastern Caribbean is one of the world's most unique thoroughbred race tracks. Built and owned by Richard Lupinacci, a retired investments banker from Philadelphia, PA., the track is open for racing about 10 times per year, usually on holidays. It has no starting gate. The horses start their races from the middle of the track and wind up at the finish line. The races don't always start on time. They begin when the horses and jockeys show up. There is a lot of drinking Caribbean rum and Carib Beer and you an smell the aroma of jerk chicken everywhere. Hey, Nevis is an island where the word party means something.
One of my passions is deep sea fishing. I have lived in Florida and the Caribbean and have gone out on fishing boats to pursue that sport. I also went deep sea fishing in Guaymas and Rocky Point, Mexico where some of the best deep sea fishing in the world takes place. I well remember catching a four and a half foot hammerhead shark off the pier in Naples, FL. The shark went out to sea and I bought it for more than 45 minutes before landing the finned mammal. As I excitedly reeled the shark in, the pier master came up and smiled. "Nice catch,'" he said. "Take a good look at your fish and then cut it loose. You can't bring it on the pier. Too dangerous." Darn! I didn't even have a camera to take a picture of the shark. Reluctantly I obeyed the pier master and cut the hammerhead loose.
If you ever find yourself in Guadalajara, Mexico, go to the cockfights. Now there are many things to enjoy in Guadalajara. They have horse races even though the horses may show up an hour late for the race. They have fine food along with tequila, Mexican beer and pulque.. i visited Guadalajara and Mexico City as a guest of the Mexican government some years ago when I wrote for the Phoenix Gazette and People Magazine. I much preferred Guadalajara over Mexico City. The difference is similar to the difference I see between Los Angeles and Albuquerque or Phoenix, which I much prefer. The Mexican Consulate booked a spacious room for me at the Hotel Tapatio, with its cobblestone streets and individual bungalows. They assigned a tour guide and a driver named Alphonso to me. I had recently married and Alphonso, a romantic bachelor, fell in love with my wife.
In every horse race, there are animals that have no business being in the race. The owners choose such a race simply to fill out the field and make the racing secretary happy. Sometimes they run their horse to exercise it for an upcoming race. Whatever the reason, the horse has little or no chance of winning. One of the smartest strategies in choosing a selection to wager on is to define the conditions of the race. Some races are simply not set up for most of the horses to run. A racing secretary, for example, might stipulate that the race is for 'non-winners of any races except maidens and claimers for less than $10,000.' If you find a horse in the race that has won regularly in $25,000 claiming or allowance races, that should be a definite tip-off that this animal is a contender.
Fred Hill was a tall man in his 70s who wore a Stetson and Larry Mahan boots. I met him in Tucson, AZ. while working as a reporter on the Tucson American, a weekly newspaper owned by Evan Mecham who would later become governor of Arizona. Hill was a businessman who developed desert properties and turned them into commercial ventures. He walked into our newspaper office to buy some advertising space to promote a greyhound dog racing track he was in the process of completing near Benson, AZ. He and I hit it off well. Fred was a jocular, well spoken individual who was related to a legendary baseball player named Paul Dean. When he discovered I enjoyed a gamble, he invited me to be his guest at the track's grand opening 10 days away. 'Who knows?', he said. 'You might get lucky.'
Being a horse lover from the time I was six years old, I have ridden a lot of horses in my time. I started out riding the ponies at Kentwood Park in Western Pennsylvania. Then I moved to New Mexico and rented horses from the Sheriff of Quay County to ride in the high prairie country and to climb to the top of Tucumcari Mountain where two outlaws, Billy the Kid and Black Jack Ketchum, used to hide in a cave to outwit pursuing posses. Horses have brought a lot of pleasure to me. In Phoenix, AZ. I would go to the Skyline Ranch next to South Mountain where my friend Doyle Williams owned a riding stable and a bull riding academy. Doyle boarded horses for ranchers and horse trainers at Turf Paradise Race Track. He knew enough about horses to have taken over the role Robert Redford played in 'The Horse Whisperer.'
18th of April 2019
18th of April 2019