SI Vault
M. R. Werner
November 27, 1961
The winner of more than 200 racetrack doubles tells his adventures in folly and glory in 18 years at mutuel windows. He explains how he does and doesn't do it—without system but with hope
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November 27, 1961

Man Hits 200 Daily Doubles

The winner of more than 200 racetrack doubles tells his adventures in folly and glory in 18 years at mutuel windows. He explains how he does and doesn't do it—without system but with hope

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Women vs. horses

The hunch daily double players are disgusting to me. I once saw a woman win a big double with a horse in the second race called Uncle Ev, which she bet because she had an Uncle Ev. The horse won, and her double was worth $573.80. I thought she should have been spanked. I almost lost the friendship of a woman who insisted on betting 2 and 2 because those were the numbers on the badge of the porter in the train she had come to New York on from Florida, and because she had noticed a telegraph pole en route that also had the numbers 2 and 2. I made cutting remarks about woman horseplayers, she turned into Christabel Pankhurst and would not speak to me. After the 2 and 2 combination clicked and she had collected $238 for $2, she moved away from the seat next to me, and had to send her flowers to make her civil again next day.

There are compulsive daily double players who buy so many tickets of various combinations that it is hard to see how they can show a profit unless some terrific long shots win the first two races. The late Grantland Rice used to play almost innumerable doubles. I stood behind him one day at the seller's window, and they had to give him a fat rubber band to tie up his bulky investments. Once at a $10 daily double window I saw a woman buy $400 worth of tickets.

It is surprising how many strangers think they should share in a daily double player's luck. Among them are some mutuel clerks who like to take what they regard as their share when paying off by shortchanging you if you don't stand there and count your money. Mutuel clerks sometimes give you daily double tips and ask you to meet them at a specific cashier's window after the second race. I never take their tips and have never found one of them that won. They hope to make a good living by giving each customer a different combination, so that someone will win and pay them.

People who have heard that I have won 200 daily doubles are always astonished—they don't care how many years it took and how many tickets were involved. They often ask: "How do you do it?" I do it, as all regular horseplayers do with more normal bets, by a combination of study and hunch. I like to think that I operate on a system akin to that expressed in the title of Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. But I am ready to admit that factors besides reason enter into the daily double. My source material for study is, of course, the past performances in The Morning Telegraph. I like a horse that has been coming second, third, sometimes even fourth in his more recent races. I don't mind if he has won a few times, provided he hasn't done it in cheap company. I don't like to bet on trainers or jockeys. I take into consideration, of course, that some jockeys have been winning more than others, and if one of these is on a horse I like anyway, it reinforces my convictions. People can fall in love with jockeys and also get to hate them. Either emotion is financially dangerous. In the end, the horse counts, and it is tough enough depending on him or her.

I like to look carefully at the conformation of horses before betting them. That is almost impossible in betting the daily double because the horses in the first race don't come out of their stalls in the paddock until shortly before the daily double windows close, and by that time there are such long lines of last-minute mind readers that one runs a strong chance of being shut out. It is frustrating to wait on a doubles line behind a slow thinker when you know the window is about to close.

Some of my friends laugh at my addiction to the daily double, and some of them encourage it. The skeptics think me slightly crazed, which is entirely possible; the romantics enjoy my ventures vicariously—with my capital. I don't care what they think. I have never had to go to a psychoanalyst, nor have I ever had to file a petition for bankruptcy. I intend to go right on betting the daily double in this world and in any other where there may be racetracks. I am hoping to hit 500 before I pass on to my reward or my punishment.

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