This, my daughters, is how to bet the exacta

I was bored and when I get bored I look for something to do. My idle mind tends to gravitate towards mischief, so instead of conducting unhealthy Google searches I decided to tweak my blog. It’s not dramatically different, really. I’ve always loved the banner so I kept that. I changed the name to this somewhat Bukowski-esque title. Compared to the previous title this is a bit shorter, a better play on words and it rolls off the tongue more easily. Do I need to explain that this is a witty sarcasm? That I’m not really exiled or in pain? (Well…not much.) In the past, I was told that The Unbearable Banishment was an insult to my bride. Further, I was asked that if life is so unbearable, why didn’t I just leave? It’s just a joke, brothers and sisters. Not a cry for help.

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I took the girlies to the horse track and showed them how to bet the ponies. Not the complicated data dump that constitutes real wagering. Just the basics. This is a dangerous game to play. The only attention I ever got from my father—and I mean ever—was on Thursdays during football season when he’d let me fill out a betting chit. It doesn’t take a Freudian scholar to figure out where my love of gambling and casinos was born. That’s something I DON’T want the daughters to inherit so I’m careful.

Horse racing is a dying sport, but it’s still a pretty big deal in New Jersey. You wouldn’t think so, but NJ is horse country. The area where I live is dotted with pretty horse farms. This was by no means our first visit to the track. The track is excellent! It’s not a total dive, but it’s still a bit seedy around the edges. It’s mangy enough to be interesting, but not so much that it’s dangerous or scary. If you look around, you can still find some sharps right out of a Damon Runyon novel.

I taught The Daughters how to read the Racing Form. Just look at that logo. A classic design.


Kids will place a wager based on the jockey’s silk color or the name of the horse. You’d be surprised how far that’ll get you. My father-in-law and I pour over stats—track condition, jockey weight, previous running times, opponents, etc.,—and more often than not throwing a dart at the page is just as effective.

The worst thing that could happen happened. 11-Year Old Daughter won $33 on a $6 across-the-board bet. She bet the number three horse because she’s third in her class. Now she thinks she’s got it all figured out. Very dangerous.


We’ve spent the last few weekends on the boardwalks pumping badly-needed capital into the local storm-damaged communities. Restore the Shore! Hurricane Sandy fucked this place up pretty good but it’s amazing how much progress they’ve made. Some of the amusement park rides are still out of commission but pretty much everything else is up and running.

Daughter and friend stroll through the Jersey scene. I’m glad they’re going to spend their youth near a beach community. What great memories! I grew up near Lake Erie. Why do you think they call it eerie?


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Scary quotes du jour

“You can have privacy or you can have the Internet, but you can’t have both.”

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat on the recently revealed government surveillance programs.

“There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment.”

George Orwell

36 thoughts on “This, my daughters, is how to bet the exacta

  1. i like the new look – but the new name will take some time to get used to. we can’t call you “t.u.b.” or just “unbearable” any longer… “e.o.p.s.” doesn’t really ring, and ‘exile’ is a bit too goth for you… i’ll adapt!

    teaching the ladies to read the racing form is a good life skill! although it won’t serve them as well as shooting learning to shoot a gun from the back of a horse if there’s a zombie apocalypse, it’ll get them through social minefields on occasion!

    • Well, you could call me eps. Oh…wait…that’s a file extension. Scratch that. Exiled? I dunno. I didn’t think this thing through. It’s been a lot more work that I anticipated. What isn’t?

      I convinced Mrs. Wife that mastering the Racing Form odds is good for the math skills. I got a look.

  2. Like your new name. And I liked your old name, too!
    Racing is still pretty big here in Southern California….I know someone who goes to The Track here, every day…And he has been doing that for years and years….I haven’t been in over 40 years….But, when I did go, my “picks” were very much like your girls—I liked the name.
    It is wonderful that so much has been restored there in New Jersey, given the severity of the damage.

    • Charles Bukowski, the patron saint of Los Angeles, was a HUGE horse racing fan. He went pretty much every day and wrote some fine poems and stories about the sport. There’s a romance to it.

      There are still lots of shore community houses that are trashed but they got the boardwalks up and running right away for the summer season. That’s where all the $$$ comes from so it was necessary.

    • No more or less dramatic than it’s always been. Only the names have been changed. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Or something like that.

  3. Ah now I know why my Google reader went crazy this morning! I took The Boy horse racing when he was younger, it was a grand day out on the South Downs. I encouraged him to bet using the Tote (sort of like a government run betting outlet) we have here…his choices being governed more by the horse’s name or the colour of the jockey’s outfit. We used the form guide to eliminate the obvious three-legged ponies. We went home £12 richer, and very happy.

    • Yeah, it hasn’t been an easy transition. I thought all the coding was in place but it’s still a bit buggy.

      One wouldn’t initially think of a day at the races as being family fun but it really can be. If I go to the track (or a casino) and exit £12 to the good, I consider that a successful day. All I ever want to do with play with house money. Gigantic profits are not to be expected. All the more pleasurable if you do happen to clean up.

  4. Ah ha, here you are!

    Well, if they end up on Skid Row slobbering over a half-empty bottle of vodka, begging for another dollar which will (of course) win them a million, you’ll know where the habit started!

    Like the new site, with a tiny reservation that the contrast isn’t great, (dark grey on a lighter grey?) but then that’s probably more to do with my eyes than anything objective.

    • Yes, here I be. I wonder how many readers I’ll lose in the ether?

      Here in NYC they have (had?) a chain of betting parlors called OTB, which stood for Off Track Betting. The locals affectionately referred to it as Old Time Bums in honor of the people who stood outside panhandling.

      I picked out this template but now that it’s implemented there are a few aesthetics I’m not crazy about. I wonder if it’s too late to do anything about it?

  5. sugarpie,

    1. i got the joke

    2. i never, ever saw it as an insult to your fine bride, Mrs Wife

    3. love the new look

    4. i’m still gonna call you UB.

    and finally, you are a rock solid dude! xoxoxoxox

    • I had a few comments over the years that I was being, perhaps, a bit insensitive. Not many. But a couple.

      The jury is still out on the new look, but thanks. I think the leading is a bit too loose. And I’m not sure about the serif font. We’ll see.

      Call me Ishmael! Rats. That’s what the new name should have been. Call Me Ishmael.

      • I’m still tinkering with the template. I dumped out the serif font for sans serif and moved the header up so it’s flush with the top. I didn’t like the extra space. I’m still not sure I’m 100% satisfied.

        The title is borrowed from The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St..

      • Well, I think the name is set. I like that. But the look isn’t what I thought it would be. Back to the workbench, methinks.

  6. I think your new handle is more masculine. Exiles are more often male than female. I never knew horse racing was a dying sport. How do you call odds in America? Do you say “two-to-one on” and “two-to-one against”?

    • The new name seems cleaner but let’s see how it feels a year or two from now.

      Horse racing, like craps, is not your friend. It pretends to be your friend, but it’s not.

  7. I like the new look, very chic. I was also interested to see that if you jumble up the new title it comes out as ‘Not Alien Expertise’.

    Are you telling us everything about where you are really from oul son?

    • Thanks, pal. I was kind of inspired by you, you know? You used to have that other site and you did a complete revamp. It’s not the first time I’ve drawn the bucket of inspiration up from your well. Hope you don’t mind.

      As far as my origins, Cleveland, Ohio is about as alien as it gets. There’s no hiding that.

  8. when I moved to Jersey to teach at the number one school for Equine Studies in the country, I was quickly informed that there are more horses per square mile in the state of New Jersey than any other state in the USA.

    just an equine tidbit.

    • You, sir, have earned the right to call me whatever you like. You may even insult me, if you feel it’s appropriate.

      The new look is still a work in progress. How will I know when it’s finished?

  9. Horse racing a dying sport? Not in the UK. Not whilst Elizabeth reigns.
    I was happy with UB but I suppose changing my blog roll will be good practice. If I can remember how to do it.
    Find another enthusiasm for the girls I prithee – with all haste.

    • You may, of course, continue to use UB. I have to say I’m really surprised that the name change is being checked. I always felt it was kind of clumsy but, be that as it may, I guess folks just got used to it. Five years is, after all, quite a long time.

  10. I’ll just call you The Exiled One from now on. I like what you’ve done with the place.

    When I was a kid, my mother took me to Hammacher Schlemmer and they had a little slot machine on display. My mom gave me a dime to put in it, I pulled the lever and 6 dimes came out. And presto, an addict was born! Those little dopamine receptors started lighting up like crazy! And of course I played each dime and lost them all.

    So teach your daughters to bet wisely.

    • In a very similar way, you’re exiled the same as I.

      My daughter’s eyes lit up when that number three horse came in. I remember that early thrill when I walked out of a casino with more money than when I walked in. It’s a slippery slope for sure!

  11. If i would have remembered i’d be 1200 richer right now cuz my 7 yr. old son picked the trifecta in the Derby, you can look up what a $1 box paid and feel my pain… and why you always harshing on Cleveland? I miss old Capt. Franks and hanging by the lake, drinking fortified wine and then getting some ice cream, oh the dreams of my wayward youth.

    • For the record, I friggin’ love Cleveland. Love the Indians. Love a good Eastern European meal. I’ve never meant to give the impression otherwise. I always look forward to my 2x year visits. I’ll be there the first week of August for the Berea Fair. Meet me there!

  12. I have a special place in my heart for seedy establishments. However, I have never bet on the ponies, let alone been to a racetrack. The closest we ever came to that sort of thing here in Kansas, was greyhound races, and those are closed down now.

    • I used to visit the greyhound track when I lived in Phoenix. The dogs would chase a mechanical bunny starving for a meal, I presumed. When they got to that first turn they’d be running so fast that one or two would lose their footing and tumble into a cloud of dust. Sometimes, they’d take another dog or two with them. It was equal parts heartbreaking and funny to watch. Like and old Warner Brothers cartoon.

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