Commentary

What we've learned

Updated: October 27, 2008, 6:18 PM ET
By Jay Cronley | Special to ESPN.com

Here's what I might have learned from this round of Breeders' Cup follies; you never know if you gained any material of value until you bet again.

All synthetic surfaces are not the same.

Each artificial surface has given rise to a specialist, a style of runner who probably won't look like the same animal elsewhere. About all the freeze-dried-peat-moss-like substance has in common with real dirt is color. If you think the Juvenile winner, Midshipman, is something special, you can go ahead and send your Kentucky Derby win bet on him through me. The switch from synthetic to organic is trying. Many horses racing on dirt for the first time, after a campaign on party turf, can be seen wondering on the top of the turn for home: Where'd everybody go? European domination was such in LA this time that we might have to try what worked in the most recent Ryder Cup, light heckling.

Surfaces that favor closing styles of racing are rife for upsets, which is to say the production of big prices.

It has been my experience to note that when I come upon a race that appears to be very difficult to handicap -- in that any of them could win, with any other coming through on the rail in a four-way Photo for the place -- I'm probably not going to find the winner after two more hours of careful analysis. Upon further review of a next to impossible race, it's not going to get much easier with the imposition of your desire, skills, wishful thinking, or prayer. Hard races stay hard. Many handicappers coming to a tough race pass on it, which sounds honorable, but which in fact is pretty stupid if it's hooked to an otherwise playable Pick Three.

I for one am not in this game to bet $200 to win on a 4-5 shot. I am here to bet reasonable multiples of $2 and win $1,000 well before I even come close to spending $1,000.

The cheapest and best way to the good money in horse racing is through the exotic wagers, the more manageable the bet, the fewer the guesses, the better.

A monstrous Pick Six carryover will attract alliances comprised of former CEO's looking for a better place than the market to play with their fishy gains.

Pick Threes with huge payoffs can come and go unnoticed. To win a Pick Three, you don't always have to beat a group, sometimes you're only up against some schmucks.

There's also a skimming advantage to exotic wagers, psychological or not, as the track only gets its hooks into a percent of your wager just the one time. You can put lots of possibilities into play with the one ante.

Multiple pick payoffs over racetrack-in-a-box surfaces run toward the astronomical on a routine basis.

Impossible can be good.

The time to pass on an otherwise playable Pick Three is if more than, oh, eight could win a race over the funky stuff.

In related horse racing news, nobody who mentioned a search for "value" during the Breeders' Cup races made a dime; for about the millionth consecutive time.

Keep this in mind players, all winners have value.

Write to Jay at jaycronley@yahoo.com.