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A Fickle Public
Thursday, August 28, 2014 - by Frank Cotolo

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Even great horses are beaten because Murphy’s Law—if anything can go wrong, it will—is proven true time and time again in the world’s most consistent sport.

Though harness racing, moreso than all pari-mutuel wagering sports, equine or not, is ruled by the mathematics of public opinion, there is always room for the type of chaos that shakes the slide rule.

Certainly Father Patrick’s break and continued galloping in the 2014 Hambletonian is among the most recent examples of chaos over consistency. Still, the episode is a constituent of the system.

For those of us who embrace the mathematics and appreciate the sudden episodes of inconsistency there are many rewards, especially if we watch the tide of public opinion turn against those great horses that become victims to upsets.

A great case in point is Shake It Cerry. After she was beaten by Designed To Be at Pocono on June 18, the betting majority all but hanged her out to dry. They ignored the trip that contributed to her loss and the insignificance of Design To Be’s winning time in the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes. Though she won a PA All Stars split on June 29 as the top choice ($2.80), the next big event was a bettor’s dream.

In the Del Miller final at the Meadowlands, the public pounded Designed To Be to win and left Shake It Cerry to go off at 7-2. All the king’s men couldn’t stop us from staying with Shake It Cerry as public opinion swayed. Shake It Cerry won and paid $9.60.

It took a tough trip and her stablemate, Lifetime Pursuit—not Designed To Be—to beat Shake It Cerry in the Hambletonian Oaks. That is fine with us, because we sensationalize on a fickle public. Shake It Cerry may return at another great price and we will be on top of that opportunity, too, because great horses are beaten but they usually don’t stop racing well because of it.

In the Carl Milstein at Northfield a few weeks ago, the public continued its adoration of Mcwicked. Some of us saw the inherent value in the public’s dismissal of All Bets Off and we collected a win price of $16.60. And we all know what happened in the North America Cup, when the public tossed away the likes of Jk Endofanera. He too, by the way, must still be respected.

As for Father Patrick, he is a tremendous performer whose talent is miles ahead of any other in the division, even the colt that recently beat him. To give up on Father Patrick now is madness, the kind the public finds comfortable when a giant suffers a mathematical mishap, so to speak.

These things happen every season and a smart bettor takes full advantage of them. Huge bargains come in the shape of many a great horse, so always wager on the great horses when they offer the best prices.

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The views contained in this column are that of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of the United States Trotting Association.