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BETTING THE SYSTEMS : Accountant Plays Handicappers’ Picks to Show

TIMES STAFF WRITER

When Hankaretta ran wire to wire to win by five lengths on the last day of the 1989-90 Santa Anita season in a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up, it was the start of winning day for “The Dummy.”

The Dummy, who appears rich, doesn’t always win, but he makes enough money so that he can visit either Santa Anita or Hollywood Park on weekends and days off from his job with a leading accounting firm in Century City in Los Angeles.

He generally can be found dressed conservatively in a gray suit and gray tie in the Turf Club.

Although he looks more rugged than handsome and more beat up than a boxer, The Dummy seems to attract lots of women, who show up at the track with him, one on each arm. For this reason, he has many male friends in the Turf Club who are constantly going up to his table to talk to him or his women about the horses--as if they really want advice.

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The Dummy, though, gets no respect from his peers, despite the fact that away from the track he is actually very intelligent, with degrees in accounting and law from a tough Eastern college. His friends only see him throwing his money around and betting big sums to impress the women. And for this reason, they call him The Dummy behind his back.

The Dummy doesn’t consult with anyone and never seeks inside information.

What The Dummy likes to bet is a money-progression system based on the picks of newspaper handicappers or on favorites as they show up on the totalizator board. He believes that such betting enables him to cash in a lot more tickets than if he would pick the nags himself from the Racing Form. Also, since handicapping doesn’t take up his time, he can pay more attention to his women between races.

What his friends don’t know is that The Dummy never wagers to win or place. He’s strictly a show bettor, figuring that too many things can go wrong in a race and that even the best horse in the world sometimes loses. As a result, he is constantly cashing in tickets at the payoff windows, but collects lower prices for his efforts than if he would bet to win.

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The Dummy likes to start his wagering with $40 and add $80 to his bets after each loss. Thus, if he would lose every race, the money progression would look like this: First race, $40; second race, $120; third race, $200; fourth race, $280; fifth race, $360; sixth race, $440; seventh race, $520; eighth race, $600, and ninth race $680. When he wins, he starts over again with a $40 bet.

Of course, if he has a bad day, it is going to cost him $3,240, an amount, he claims, he has never reached, inasmuch as he has yet to lose all nine races. The Dummy says that show betting on the favorites has resulted so far in his cashing in about 65% of his wagers.

In any case, when Hankaretta won on April 23, the 90th day of a 90-day meeting, The Dummy was following Los Angeles Times’ handicapper Pat Ray, whose top selection showed seven of the day’s nine races. Hankaretta paid $3 to show, giving The Dummy a profit of $20 after the first race.

In the second race, a six-furlong effort for 3-year-old California horses, Ray’s pick, Cordial Steppe, started off in front, but faltered in the stretch to finish second by 1 1/2 lengths, paying $4.40 to show. For his $40 bet, The Dummy received $88, giving him a profit of $68 after two races.

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The third race, a mile for 3-year-olds, was a loser as Silent ‘N Nasty ran sixth, cutting The Dummy’s profit to $28. However, in the fourth, another mile race for 3-year-olds, Interflip, the second choice in the betting at $3.60 to $1, raced evenly to the finish and ended up third, returning backers $3.80 to show. A $120 bet by The Dummy resulted in a $228 payoff, to boost his winnings to $136.

Putting, the favorite in the fifth, 1 1/2 miles on the turf for 4-year-olds and up, won easily by four lengths and paid $2.60 to show. Returns amounted to $56 and The Dummy was ahead $152. He also won the sixth with Sports View for a $12 profit and the seventh with Chip’s De Mere, which added $8 to winnings of $164 for a total $172.

In the eighth, 1 1/4 miles on the turf for 4-year-olds and up, Ray picked Just As Lucky. The horse finished second, paying $3.40. For a $40 bet, The Dummy collected $68 and was ahead $200 for the day. The ninth, however, was a losing effort as the heavily favored Highland Mint ran fifth to cut nine-race profit to $160.

During Hollywood Park’s current season, The Dummy has also been betting favorites to show. A good day for his system was April 26, the second day of the 90-day meeting. After the first four races, in which all the horses at least showed, The Dummy was ahead $64. He lost his $40 bet on the fifth race and wagered $120 on the sixth.

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Shady Damsel, a heavy favorite in a six-furlong race for fillies and mares, took the lead at the quarter-pole and won easily by 3 1/2 lengths. For the show, which paid $2.60, The Dummy collected $156, boosting his winnings to $60. In the seventh, the favorite Humasong just managed to finish third in a five-horse race and paid $2.40. After collecting $48, winnings were $68.

A one-mile race on the turf for 3-year-olds in the eighth turned up Pictorial as the favorite. The nag started last in an 11-horse field and worked its way up to second, paying $4 to show. Returns on a $40 bet came to $80 and The Dummy held a profit of $108 for the day, with one race to go.

The favorite in the last race, however, ran last in a 12-horse field after pulling up lame, costing The Dummy a $40 loss, which cut his winnings to $68 for the day.

The Dummy believes he has a good thing going for him, no matter how hard his friends laugh at him behind his back. Being an accountant, he finds that numbers, not people, indicate the way to winning. “It’s simple mathematics,” he says. “If you discipline yourself to strictly follow the numbers, you don’t have to interpret them. Then you’ll end up ahead!”

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