New handicapper livin' his dream at Emerald Downs
By the time I was about 10, I had a good idea that I was never going to be a professional athlete.
But I did have a dream job: being the handicapper for The Seattle Times.
My father got me interested in horse racing when I was about 8. He would have me crunch numbers for races at Longacres in Renton, using a system he had devised (it wasn't good enough for him to leave his day job).
My mom still gets mad at my dad for getting me hooked on the races.
But hooked I was. I loved handicapping and going to the races. And 38 years later, I am living my dream.
I am the Seattle Times handicapper.
I am also the golf writer and a full-time copy editor, so it's not exactly how I dreamed it. But when the handicapping position came open this spring, I followed my heart and asked if I could do it.
My wife wondered where I would find the time. When one of your first loves comes calling, you find the time.
I fretted for a few weeks before the April 13 season opener. It had sounded like such a great idea to be the handicapper, but then reality struck: Everyone is going to see my picks. Before when I had a bad day, I could keep the embarrassment to myself. Not anymore.
I can't describe how relieved I was when my first pick of the season, Allison Ridge, won. I had the next winner too, and I picked 12 of 26 winners the first week. There is a unique feeling of satisfaction seeing a race play out exactly as you had envisioned.
Could it really be this easy? No. It's never that simple in this sport.
I picked one winner on last Friday's card and one winner on Saturday. I didn't wager on the races, but seeing my public picks win two of 16 races was worse than losing money.
If only I had picked Ex Hostess to win Friday instead of picking her second after much internal debate: That was a 17-1 winner I could have had.
But mostly, I am having fun. I've never lost my love for handicapping, but it's different now.I can't wait for each week's races. It's like it was when I was 10.
It's the feeling you get when you're living your dream.If you'd like to write a Take 2 post, email Sports Editor Don Shelton at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com