There are times when I miss Stan Bergstein so much I want to disbelieve I cannot get him on the phone, even if it were in those late years when his poor hearing often disrupted a conversation (a disrupted conversation about harness racing with Stan Bergstein was better than most other conversations on the subject with anyone).
Mr. Bergstein (as his editor for a number of years I felt compelled to respect his tenure in the world of sports journalism by addressing him that way) left a number of indelible impressions upon me. Even before I knew him, I listened carefully to everything he said on the television broadcasts from Roosevelt and Yonkers raceways. Something about Mr. Bergstein’s very presence demanded respect for me, so I paid attention.
Working with him as an editor and a few times by his side on television race broadcasts will always be great memories, but Mr. Bergstein’s wisdom surfaces regularly in the solitude of handicapping Standardbred races. However, recently, a situation that allowed me to relay some smart advice brought to the surface a modicum of his legacy.
A fellow player wanted my opinion on a horse that was racing the week after I wagered and won with it at 20-1.
“Not tonight,” I said.
“You kidding?” the fellow said. “I love horses that come back after I win with them.”
“Never love a horse,” I said.
He looked at me quizzically.
I explained to him that I was quoting Stan Bergstein, who emphasized the need for disloyalty to specific horses because you can’t bet love. It isn’t objective and you have to be objective evaluating each race; successful gambling is not the stuff of fanatics.
There was no argument. I don’t put up my dukes to argue about handicapping or wagering for reasons that pertain to objectivity. I told the fellow, however, that the advice came from a great man in the industry and it is important to understand the breadth of such sources of wisdom, especially when it comes to gambling.
Mr. Bergstein was so right when he told people that great emotional attachment is no way to measure a wager. Love should not be any factor when it’s time to risk money; it will ultimately lead to disappointment.
And yes, I bet against the horse that brought me a huge win price the week before. He lost. I won. No love was lost between us.
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