I have done some very strange things in my life, and this statement will come as no surprise to the people who know me. Some of the weird behavior in the early days was fueled by firewater, but plenty of the strange antics in later years have had no plausible explanation whatsoever.
I have owned a piece of a boxer, invested in a Broadway musical, came back from Saratoga one year and decided that it was imperative that I jump out of an airplane… fitted with a parachute, of course. I took up golf at an advanced age, and also decided to learn how to play the ukulele. And I would gladly do them all again, except for the parachuting. Once will suffice.
Recently, I decided that I should bet $5,000 that a Dogwood Stable horse would win a Breeders' Cup race on November 4th or 5th. After some conversation, I got the bet laid in Reno, Nevada, with odds of 10 to 1. The likelihood of a 40-horse stable winning a Breeders' Cup race, with 70,000 horses in the mix, is statistically pretty weak, so I should have gotten 40 to 1. So, why did I do it? Well, mostly just for the hell of it. It's fun, puts a little pizzazz in your life. But-at the same time-I suppose I was nudged along by being somewhat impressed with our two-year-olds. We've also got some sharp three-year-olds, and just after I laid the bet, Aikenite, representing our older horses, won the Grade Two, seven-furlong Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland, incidentally garnering our eighth gold Julep Cup at that great racetrack, and thereby qualifying Dogwood to receive a gold tray which will be presented at the fall meet at a cocktail reception. Then, three weeks later Aikenite won the Churchill Downs Stakes.
But mostly the bet comes under the category of bizarre behavior. I bet the money with an outfit called Lucky's Race and Sports Book at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno. While I am not "palsy-walsy" with the gambling scene in Las Vegas and Reno, some of my friends are, and they hooked me up with Lucky's. In case you don't know it, the drill is that one must show up at the betting venue with legal tender. Betting with a sports book is rather like buying a car from an auto dealership, or borrowing money from a banker. No matter how high your regard for your powers of negotiation, you are probably going to take the worst of it. The people at Lucky's, attractive, personable types to be sure, were at first slightly put off by a wager of this exotic nature, and they did a fair amount of due diligence, to be certain that I had not just bought controlling interest in some established hot shot. Once comfortable with that angle, they sort of liked the nature of the bet because it has some slight degree of panache. I do think when Aikenite became the second highest ranked sprinter in America, following his thrilling win in the Churchill Downs Stakes on Derby Day, it lessened the advantage that the 10 to1 odds originally provided the sports book.
All of us in racing are gamblers of one sort or another. There was a time when I could not get to the races early enough, had to bet the daily double and every race on the card, after feverishly handicapping the night before. But, when I went in the horse business, that obsession diminished, and I got where I'd rather watch the post parade than stand in line to make a bet, especially if it involved one of our horses. But now I must admit that I adore the once-every-few-years betting opportunity when you think you know something about the effectiveness of a horse that the rest of the world does not know. Usually, this involves the seeking of a claiming level where the horse appears to be ambitiously placed, but, based on his degree of sharpness that only a few know about, should have the field over a barrel. Hard to get that formula just right. But when you think you have, it's time to bet with both hands. These are projects-perfectly legitimate in every way mind you-that come to fruition over a period of several months usually, and the anticipation of the approaching big day is truly delicious. Anticipation is the big deal in this game anyway. No one appreciates that fact more than I. And, there will be a lot of it before the Breeders' Cup. In the meantime, I doubt seriously that the people at the sports book in Reno are quaking in their boots.
This is Cot Campbell and this is my view.