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Tapping into the supernatural
Thursday, June 26, 2014 - by Frank Cotolo

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When I ran a talk show at KVSD-AM radio in Carlsbad, Calif., many years ago, I would entertain my audience by interviewing guests swearing by their unearthly experiences. This eldrich group included trenchant men and women well-versed in the facts involved in their far-out subject areas.

None of them appeared or sounded delusional or loopy. In fact, they explained their adventures at times with such potent clarity that one could almost attempt to accept their claims.


Graphic by Autumn Ryan

Audiences loved listening to people who were powerfully persuasive about traveling to the underground civilization of Mars, no less being personally escorted there three times a week; recalling a past life as Napolean, the French emporer who attempted to take over the world; or having a talent for talking to ghosts with a penchant for practical jokes.

At the time I was enjoying my duties at the small-time radio show I was also deeply involved with handicapping and wagering at Del Mar, arguably one of the most beautiful racetracks on Earth and in itself a strong attraction to people similar to my guests on the radio show.

Practically void of the tools all handicappers employ when addressing the outcome of a race, a surprising number of people I met daily at Del Mar were dealing with pari-mutuel racing by tapping into the supernatural. I will call each one of them, as usual, Delaney.

One Delaney spent hours doing astrological charts of horses, searching for their “peaking moment” that would present a positioning of the planets that would best suit the horse’s chance to win.

Another Delaney studied the “power of the tides” from the nearby Pacific Ocean, swearing that the Moon’s energy, which dictated the strength and weakness of the tides, played an integral part in which path on the dirt track would be more amicable to speed. At first, this sounded almost scientific. Then, Delaney referred to the Moon Phantoms, creatures that controlled the depths of all dirt on Earth and the theory was defunct.

A wonderfully jovial female Delaney, who dressed like a proverbial gypsy, relied on Numerology to predict winners. Mind you, it was her personal equation which she “honed after countless excavations of field sizes” that guided her wagers. She never revealed the formula—in fact, she guarded it with her life and I swore from a constant bulge I saw in her colorful blouses, that she was packing heat in case anyone dared to try to squeeze the secret out of her.

The fact that these people actually won races by using the most outrageous reasoning anyone could fathom proves that all of us, no matter how much we learn about how best to address playing pari-mutuels, need the aid of luck and that when we are correct and win, we can never measure how much luck played a role in the victory. As people dealing with the nature of risk, we have to respect the fact that even a broken clock is correct twice a day.

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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.

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