Being resolute in 2006

Updated: January 5, 2006, 11:08 PM ET
By Jay Cronley | Special to ESPN.com

Here are some possible New Year's resolutions for the resolute horse player.

Quit ahead
This pledge would be a tough one to argue, save for the fact that any gambling endeavor usually gets streaky. Playing the horses isn't like popping into the card room on a daily basis for a game with a bunch of drunken fraternity mates, or punching a slot machine button on the way home from work. Even the most ardent horse player with a satellite dish and a phone betting service has a hard time playing the races 24-7-365- divorce papers. Not everybody is there to win $36 per day. To many the horses are played with a windfall in mind, not the rate of return of a government savings bond. Somebody gets to the races a time or two a week and is ahead $75 and would like to use that to try to make $500?

Not a bad place to be.

Lay off the cheap favorites
The reason to avoid a cheap favorite is not because it wouldn't pay a decent value. We have been all around the question of value in this writing space, agreeing for the most part that every winner has value. If winning a little something is not enough, sit on your hands, stand on your head, there's is proof that there is little value in a loser except when it comes to building character.

The reason to lay off a cheap favorite would be because it is unlikely to win, not because it will only pay a 50 percent return.

Pass on a race about which you're undecided
I passed on a tough bargain basement claiming race last week and the first horse I had marked the night before won and paid $80, with the Exacta I had double-checked paying $1.1 million.

Or so it seemed.

My journals indicate that I miss a high percentage of races when I have no solid opinion.

Passing on tough races is an invigorating and healthful experience until the one time it costs you a fortune, and then you want to become a monk.

Forget the so-called soft bets
Some people think that only horse players who ride side-saddle make show or quinella bets.

Quinellas sometimes pay about the same as Exactas.

Show bets sometimes pay about the same as place bets.

Never loan anybody money at the races
I once loaned a man $20 and he hit the Daily Double, and then he hit the Pick Six that same day, and then he went directly from the track to buy a new car.

Stay away from slot machines
I'm not trying to make any connection between cherries and longevity, but there has never been a group of older smokers seen upright than what you find at the average slot bank in a casino.

When last I was in this atmosphere, I sat next to an 80-year old woman who chain-smoked unfiltered-cigarettes and only almost coughed herself off the stool once in a half hour.

Maybe this is the way to be in 2006: Resolve to get lucky.

Write to Jay at jaycronley@yahoo.com