Dozing Due to Del Mar
by Gordon Pine
Who do you think had the most hit records in the history of the music biz? Elvis? The Beatles? Michael Jackson? Nope. It was Harry Lillis Crosby, otherwise known as The Groaner, Der Bingle or Bing.
Bing Crosby is a fading American popular music icon. As one of his biographers, Gary Giddins, put it, "From 1934 to 1954, Bing Crosby utterly dominated American entertainment. Nobody has ever had as many hit records, and Crosby was the number one movie star five years in a row. The rise of Bing Crosby was the rise of American popular culture itself."
Now, personally, I stopped trying to keep up with popular music in the early 1990s. As a late baby-boomer, I can say that my generation is so afraid of becoming their parents that they are unwilling to disapprove of anything that later generations come up with, musically or otherwise. Memories of hearing their parents yell "turn that noise down!" scarred them forever. A teen or twenty-something could flatulate into a microphone for a half hour, and with a good rhythm track, it could pass as great art these days. And may I say it: do rap and hip-hop !)*#$) or what? Call it urban chant if you want, but don�t call it music. Music without a melody is like air without oxygen. These "artists" are so talentless, they wouldn�t know a ditty if it came up to them, tapped them on the shoulder and introduced itself. The few scraps of melody you do hear in modern urban music were usually ripped off from old Rick James songs. But my generation is so spineless about making judgments that a whole platoon of buck-naked emperors could goose-step by and they�d be admiring their uniforms. For instance, I think it�s a shame what has happened to the black music world over the last 15 years. Geniuses like Scott Joplin, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Nat King Cole, Louis Jordan, Berry Gordon, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson � without them, America would be unrecognizable. Compare that to Snoop Doggy Whatever � it�s sad, and I believe a lot of real black musicians today would privately agree with me. (I told you I was going to digress.)
Instead of going forward with popular music, I went back, and discovered a gold mine. Get yourself a CD of Nat King Cole in the early days playing with his trio � it�s heaven on earth. Doris Day in the forties was a great big band singer and a babe � really. Frank Sinatra in the early forties when he sang with Tommy Dorsey was superb. And Bing Crosby, often overlooked or scoffed at nowadays, is my favorite singer. The great melodies, the sense of humor, the romantic tunes, the relaxed mood, his voice � it�s the best. And Bing was a horseplayer.
Bing, Pat O�Brien and Bill Quigley, a California racing official, founded Del Mar in 1937. It lost money the first year or two, but soon became a popular weekend vacation spot for everyone from Hollywood stars to hard-knockers. Its place in west-coast racing is just as special as Saratoga�s on the east coast.
I�ve tried to make it down to Del Mar at least once a meet since the early eighties. You take the train from Union Station, get off a few miles from the track, where a free double-decker bus carts you right to the grandstand. It�s a great track.
But there�s one catch. I almost always lose there. I have a blind spot for Del Mar. The things I do don�t seem to work where the turf meets the surf. I made $1 profit at the meet in 1999 and considered it a major moral victory. Luckily, I keep track of my bets and I know this, and adjust my bet-size accordingly. I�ve adjusted it right down to nothing.
What is it about Del Mar that makes it so tough? I think it�s mostly the competition. Every smart guy in the country with sheets, computer printouts, synergistic energy calculations, breeding research and trainer databases seems to converge on Del Mar each summer and suck the value right out of the place. The longshots that do win usually make no particular sense to me. The favorites that win do make sense, but everybody knows about them.
I�m not saying it�s impossible to win at Del Mar. I�m sure there are guys doing it. I�m not one of them. If you�re one of them, I hope you�ll post on The Grandstand and explain how you do it. I like to think that part of being smart is being smart enough to stick to the situations where you do well. I�ll be going to Del Mar tomorrow, but I�ll be betting tracks like Finger Lakes, Colonial Downs, Calder, Louisiana Downs, Monmouth, and Hastings Park. I�ll have a beer or two, eat some hot dogs and take a nap in the infield. There�s a smile on every face and a winner in each race, where the turf meets the surf at Del Mar.NC
Copyright �2001 NetCapper Inc. All rights reserved.