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Knowing When Time Is Right for Long Shots

TIMES STAFF WRITER

On April 25, the first day of this year’s Hollywood Park season, a long shot by the name of Zone of Danger was running against 11 other horses in a six-furlong event for fillies and mares that were at least 3 years old. In this sixth race of the day’s card, Zone of Danger was $16.80 to $1 in the betting.

There were two favorites in the race, Le Lu and Flying Vamp, both of which were $3.70 to $1. Not only couldn’t the opening-day crowd decide on which horse to back as the favorite, but the odds also proved that the public was definitely displaying a lack of confidence in either one.

After the race--Le Lu finished seventh and Flying Vamp ended up 10th--it was obvious that the public’s lukewarm interest in these nags was justified.

However, what the public neglected to do was go for Zone of Danger, who started out from the No. 2 post position. Zone of Danger tucked into third at the start, took the lead by a head at the half-mile pole, pulled away by four lengths entering the stretch and finally crossed the finish line a winner by 5 1/2 lengths. Overlooked by the betting public, Zone of Danger, paid $35.60.

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The “Mouse,” who was watching the race from the Club House, couldn’t have been happier, because he had bet $12 on the race and had come up with a $23.60 profit.

The Mouse, who is a frequent visitor to the Southland race tracks, is a small, nervous individual with a sharply pointed nose and bulging eyes on a small face.

One of the reasons his friends at the track refer to him as the Mouse is because of his habit of scurrying around the Club House helter-skelter from one table or corner to another, talking to cronies, nibbling at food as he scampers along, but never stopping long enough to sit down and relax. At one time, the Mouse also worked for a short period of time at a Southland theme park, sometimes dressing up in a costume that resembled a famous mouse, and thus picked up the nickname.

This past Hollywood Park year, the Mouse used a long shot system that brought him back more money than he wagered. Although he didn’t bet very many of the 603 races that were run, he found that winning was somewhat of a dazzling experience, inasmuch as bettors overall generally end up losers, ready to renegotiate with their friendly bankers at the end of a race track season.

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Of course, no bank is going to take the Mouse’s system as collateral, but what makes the Mouse different from those people whose wallets become lighter as the season progresses is the way he bets.

The Mouse’s system, which is used sparingly, and on some days not at all, is based on the logic that if the bettors don’t know which horse to make a favorite, then any nag in the race can win, and, more than likely, it will be a long shot!

Surprisingly, such a theory prevailed for the 67-day Hollywood Park season. When the favorite in a race was at least 3-1 odds, then the Mouse bet every horse in that same race that was 10-1 or higher.

An even more satisfying day for the Mouse was the very next one, April 26, when he connected on another long shot. In the ninth race, 1 1/16 miles for 4 year olds and up, here’s how the horses lined up with their odds and post position:

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1--Raise A Pound, $8.50

2--Neac, 4.20

3--Vysotsky, 6.00

4--Prince Hoedown, 3.10

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5--City View, 12.20

6--Scalloway, 54.80

7--Fortunate Hour, 42.20

8--Alabob’s Pleasure, 8.70

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9--Bold Batter Up, 41.40

10--Joropo, 15.90

11--Bruli’s Ante, 8.80

12--Kamikaze, 8.90

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Once the Mouse determined just before the running of the race that Prince Hoedown was going off at odds of at least 3-1, he plunked down $10 at the betting window and wagered $2 each on City View, Scalloway, Fortunate Hour, Bold Batter Up and Joropo.

Fortunate Hour, one of the Mouse’s long shots, took the lead, but began fading at the three-quarter pole. The highest priced horse in the field, Scalloway, at the half-mile marker was running sixth, with Bold Batter Up right behind him.

After the far turn and into the stretch, Bold Batter Up moved into fifth and continued with a rush. He passed four other horses on the straightaway and took the lead just before the finish to win by half a length.

Bold Batter Up paid $84.80 and the Mouse, after deducting the $10 he bet on the race, ended up with a $74.80 profit.

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Another winning day for the system was on June 28 when long shots won the second and fifth races.

In the second, after determining that Hankaretta would go off the favorite at $3.20 to $1 odds, the Mouse bet $14 on seven nags that were 10-1 or higher. Speaking Part, which was $15.20 to $1, started out the six-furlong sprint in fourth place, waiting until the stretch to take the lead by a head and hold off a fast-finishing Hankaretta. Speaking Part paid a $32.40 mutuel and the Mouse was ahead $18.40.

The fifth race at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for fillies and mares 4-year-olds and up only qualified four horses, one of which was Sonilla. Breaking slowly from the No. 9 post position, Sonilla was in seventh place at the quarter pole. She dropped back to eighth at the three-quarter mark and then made her move. By the stretch, Sonilla was sixth by a head and passing other horses. A strong run took Sonilla to the front, where she opened up a 1 1/4-length lead.

Happy Sonilla backers received $29.20 for the $2 tickets and the Mouse walked away with a $21.20 profit, which added to the $18.40 won on the second race, put the Mouse ahead $39.60 for the day.

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At Hollywood Park this year, the Mouse only bet 63 races, won 21, and concluded the season with a 33.3% winning edge. His returns hit a total $880.80, while his bets amounted to $636, giving him a profit of $244.80 for the season.

If his cronies think the season was a fluke, the Mouse is well prepared to defend his system. For the first 14 days this year at Del Mar, from July 25 to Aug. 9, 20 races qualified for wagering. Of these 20, six resulted in wins. Overall, the Mouse bet $176, collected $198.40 and showed a profit of $22.40.

The Mouse maintains that those figures tell it all. After all, winning is the name of the game!


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