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Memories & Memorabilia – Written by Ryan Oleston

Christmas Always Comes Early

It was a Tuesday afternoon and I was on a flight heading to Philadelphia from Dallas.  I was excited to celebrate “Christmas” with my best friend.  About 10 years ago Tad, my roommate at the time, introduced me to the great sport of horse racing by taking me to our local track, Delaware Park. I was immediately hooked.

Even though we lived in different parts of the country, we were fortunate enough to spend “Christmas” together.   Our celebration doesn’t involve the typical Christmas traditions.  There are no Christmas trees, presents, or turkeys.  Breeders Cup is our Christmas!

The waiting and excitement is very similar to us as kids waiting for Santa Clause on Christmas Eve.  We even have our traditions for the big event.  We handicap together a few days before, hit our favorite bars or restaurants, and watch “Let It Ride” the night before. Sometimes we attend the Breeders Cup at the host track but we usually head to Wilmington, Delaware, and watch the big races from Delaware Park.

Breeders Cup 2008 at Santa Anita was just a few days away.  In previous Breeders Cups, I was strictly a $10 win bet type player but in the days leading up to this Cup I decided I was going to try my first Breeders Cup Pick 4.  I had made a few Pick 4 wagers in the past by using Steve Christ’s A,B,C,X methodology.  But with my small bankroll, usually $100 on a day, I could never afford multiple tickets and my A/A/A/A ticket left out the nice price horses.

On the plane, I read an article by Gibson Carothers. Hr wrote about  how he uses the single/spread methodology in his pick 4/6 bets.  Single where you have a really strong opinion and spread in open legs.  This made a lot of sense to me especially given my limited bankroll of $200 for this Cup.  I also read how in the Turf Sprint at Santa Anita it was important to have experience over the down hill turf course. After looking at the different pick 4 sequences over the 2 days I decided the one starting in the Turf Sprint and ending in the Juvenile fit Gibson’s methodology best.

The Turf Sprint looked wide open and had lots of speed setting it up for a closer, which left me with 9 horses.  I didn’t like the favorite in the Dirt Mile and had it narrowed down to two choices (Albertus Maximus & Rebellion).  Goldikova looked like a standout to me in the Mile and was my single in the sequence.  In the closing leg, the Juvenile, I had the 4 logical choices.  So, my ticket would be 9 x 2 x 1 x 4, $144 on a $2 bet.  Which was way too much for my budget so Tad graciously said he would split my ticket with me.

Fast forward to Saturday, and we’re at Delaware Park watching the big races.  In leg one of my pick 4, the race unfolded as I expected and, luckily for me, Desert Code won at 36-1.  That really got my juices flowing.  Then the second leg Albertus Maximus won at 6-1.  Sweet!

I was off to a great start and my single was coming up next.  I was very confident in Goldie but I was so nervous I was shaking.  Tad said let’s go get a beer at the bar.  We stood and watched the race at the bar and Goldie sat just behind the leaders and exploded when her jock gave her the signal that it was time to go. Woo hoo, we got our single home.

Of course, now the nerves and shakes got even worse.  So, back to the bar we went!  Now, we had 4 horses and we started looking at the will pays. Wow, I couldn’t believe this was happening. Luckily, there wasn’t much suspense (otherwise I might have passed out!) in the Juvenile since coming down the stretch all 4 of our horses were right there and Midshipman won the race.  The pick 4 payout was $6200!

I don’t remember much about what happened after that race but I do remember the drinks were flowing. I wouldn’t have been able to play the ticket if Tad hadn’t split it with me.  Thanks Tad!  Ever since then, I’m strictly a Pick 4 player using Gibson’s method.  I don’t get to handicap a card too often.  I usually play on the occasional weekend or big race days.  I did get a  chance to play Keeneland last month and hit a late pick 4 that paid $3200 on a $45 bet.

I didn’t get to spend “Christmas” with Tad last year because my wife and I were expecting a little girl.  But this year, I hope we can spend it together either at Santa Anita or Delaware Park.

Ryan Oleston (far right) enjoys at a day at the track with his buddies, including Tad (far left)

Ryan Oleston (far right) enjoys at a day at the track with his buddies, including Tad (far left)

We thank Ryan for sharing his story! You can follow him on Twitter at @roleston.

If you’d like to share your awesome race story on Memories & Memorabilia, just send a brief description of your special moment or item (along with a photo, if possible) to 

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