Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (June 10, 1999)
Thoroughbred racing requires
expertise inside, outside track
HORSES from page 1
Just a $2 bet can get you such a
quick, rushing jilt of emotions this
weekend as the State Fair Park nears the
middle furlong of its 9-week run of live
Events run every Thursday through
Sunday until July 18. Post times are at 5
p.m. on weekday nights and 1 p.m. on
Call horse-race gambling what you
want: a wonderful series of minute
and-a-half roller coaster rides that reel
the imagination, a bunch of cheap tick
ets to addiction and poor mental health
or an activity of people chasing horses
instead of dreams.
That’s too simple. ,
Much like the Bible and Christians,
fans participate somewhere on a well
ladder that measures how deep their
passion to thoroughbred racing: Some
read race forms like daily scripture, and
others dip into the text casually on
Sam Sharp, a 47-year-old Lincoln
High instructor, says he’s a once-in-a
while weekend warrior.
Grin on his reddening face and win
ning ticket in hand, Sharp hoots, hollers
and high fives his friend after they
picked the first three horses in order to
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win a $2 “trifecta” wager.
He seems to be catching his breath
as he approaches the ticket booth to
cash his winnings.
“Oh... We nailed it,” he says. “It’s
excitement. But I’ve had a good day.
Sometimes I have a bad one where I
lose $30-$40 and think, ‘Dam. I proba
bly could spent that on something
Sharp quickly points out his conser
vative style of betting.
“I’m a nickel and dimer,” he says.
“I’ll usually come out here with a friend
for refreshment and entertainment more
than anything else. I never really bet
very much and it’s usually split with my
buddy. We win together and we lose
Others win and lose alone.
Jack Harper sits by himself
on the opposite side of the grandstand
from Shaip at the end of the night.
Harper is a waifish, 39-year-old
truck driver from Lincoln who says he
has “been coming out here for 12 damn
The live racing ends and he takes off
with his last handful of $1 bills to the
enclosed, upstairs clubhouse facility to
try his luck on the simulcast races.
The fourth-floor clubhouse resem
bles a bowling alley in decor and
patrons with its smooth, blue-print car
pet, tables of working-class families,
drinking buddies and couples who
appear to be on dates.
Vice becomes this spacious, multi
ple-tiered, air-conditioned hall.
Cigarettes, booze and fried food
accompany gamblers at 50-odd simul
cast television sets, which feature nine
channels of thoroughbred racing from
around the country.
Harper is at home here. A bottle of
Budweiser in one hand and racing form
in the other, he expounds on his waging
Traditionally, bettors as devoted as
him depend on systems of handicap
ping or mathematical chance.
However, an unorthodox combina
tion of intuition, names and numbers
make up his gambling method.
“I look at phrases and numbers,”
Harper says in his distinctive, cigarette
and-sandpaper voice. “I’m like a
medieval numerologist who relies on
his own cheap series of dreams.
“I respect handicappers, but I don’t
want to truck with their kind. I feel the
universe has a magical component that I
want to manipulate to my advantage.”
I ask him if he had ever quit while he
was ahead and he gave a snappy and
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