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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

It's All in the Way You Look at the Handicap

August 22, 2000|T.J. SIMERS

Curtis Crayon is not unlike Tiger Woods. Both are dominant performers. Woods is the best golfer anywhere. Crayon is the worst horse handicapper.

Woods has won three major titles in the same year, and with all the competition, pressure and just plain luck, you shouldn't be able to do that.

Crayon has picked nine winners in the 205 races run at Del Mar this season. Put a blindfold on, throw darts, flip a coin, and you could do better.

Woods delivers chilling weekend entertainment, and should do so for the next two decades. Crayon delivers three horses in each race that don't figure to finish in the money unless all the others fall down, and has been doing so for The Times for more than a decade.

Woods makes you feel good; Crayon can make you rich.

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TAKE THE EIGHTH race Sunday at Del Mar, which had a field of five horses. All you had to do was take Crayon's three choices listed in the newspaper, throw them out, and put everything you own on the two remaining horses to finish first and second. A real sure thing. Bet the house on the quinella.

And you would have won $6 for every $2 bet. That's known in the trade as "Easy Crayon money."

On almost a daily basis, Crayon provides a map to the gold mine, another special feature offered by The Times. If you were trying to pick winners Sunday, all you had to do was eliminate the 27 horses listed under Crayon's name in the newspaper, and select from the rest. There's no other publication anywhere that provides that kind of winning edge.

It's tough to win the pick six. Only two patrons had the winning horses in races four through nine, and they won more than $95,000 each. So consider the significant advantage--eliminating the 18 horses that Crayon tabbed as contenders in races four through nine--and you're buying dinner for everyone.

That's why The Times' circulation is so high--because of Curtis Crayon.

You think Bob Mieszerski, The Times' so-called horse expert, sells papers? "Misery" isn't going to make you rich. Sure, he has picked 73 winners at Del Mar, but big deal. That makes him correct one out of three times, making you a loser two out of three. He's just not as dependable as Crayon.

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CRAYON WORKS ON the production staff at the newspaper much of the week, but his contribution to the world of horse racing has not gone unnoticed.

"I'm the worst handicapper in the world," said Bob Baffert, who is on the verge of being the top trainer at Del Mar for the fourth consecutive year. "Check that--the second worst--I forgot about Curtis."

You might be wondering how someone can be so successful picking so many losers. Well, before each race Crayon is in the paddock, studying the horses like a man who would like to kick the tires. By the way, the horses look at Crayon as if he might try to kick the tires.

As the horses make their way to the track, Crayon jogs from the paddock, weaving through the crowd like a thoroughbred destined to finish. Still panting, he pulls out a stopwatch and times the horses as the exercise riders lead them around. Take note: If they ever run a race featuring the exercise riders, Crayon will have it nailed.

As for what he's timing, "I don't discuss how I do things," Crayon said, and he was as serious as Kevin Brown, a horse, by the way, who has not been able to go the distance.

It remains a mystery how the guy can be so wrong so often.

"I've got to figure he uses the quick-pick method," Baffert said. "All I know is, when he picks one of my client's horses to win, I have to tell the client he has no shot."

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LOTTO PLAYERS, OF course, might not be put off by Crayon's quick-pick approach, knowing if anyone is going to tab the longest of the longshots for that one big payday, it's going to be Crayon. Remember, Mieszerski makes you nothing.

Well, Sunday the longest of the longshots at Del Mar so far this season was a winner. Holy Crayon, this was it. Dhaffir went off at 80-1, won and paid $180.40.

Unfortunately, Crayon didn't have it.

"Everyone's entitled to miss one," he said.

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CHECKING MY CALENDAR, if I have this right, the WNBA championship series begins Thursday. Will the Sparks be home for the first game?

Yes.

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YOU'D FIGURE A Kennedy would come up big in Boston for the Angels. But who knew the Red Sox had their own Rally Monkey.

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BEFORE MONDAY'S GAME the Dodgers showed highlights of third baseman Adrian Beltre playing baseball with youngsters from the East Side Boys & Girls Club earlier in the day. Technicians must have edited out the errors.

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THIS IS STRICTLY an objective report. UCLA has turned down a chance to play Kansas State in football next season because it's a tough opponent. USC has agreed to play Kansas State because it is a tough opponent.

White flags will go on sale in the UCLA campus store once school begins.

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TODAY'S LAST WORD comes in an e-mail from Wil Wheaton:

"You reported the White Sox are selling veggie dogs because 'Star Trek' actress Johanna McCloy couldn't find anything to eat at Dodger game. I'm also a former 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' actor, and was wondering, if they'll provide veggie dogs for her because she's a vegetarian, will they provide intelligent general management, and build a team that can win for me, since I am a fan."

Sure, but McCloy had to go to Chicago, and you'll have to go to San Francisco.

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T.J. Simers can be reached at his e-mail address: t.j.simers@latimes.com

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