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“A long long time ago, I can still remember how, That music used to make me smile, And I knew if I had my chance, That I could make those people dance, And maybe they’d be happy for a while.” – Don McLean.

For those of us old fogies who remember that great masterpiece “American Pie” when we could really listen to music and dance plus sing, well, this will be the question from someone who just does not like change.

Do you prefer today’s brand of Vegas or that of 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s? The day the music died for this bettor, who just loved Las Vegas, really came back in the mid 80’s. It started when the books did what we called back then CTR’s, currency transaction reports. We had more work to do tracking bets for the government than on games – trying to earn money for the books.

Millions of CTR’s are made every year and most sit in some warehouse in boxes and no one ever sees them. There was a story in the Wall Street Journal that from the millions and millions of CTR’s and the loss of money doing these only a few are ever prosecuted for money laundering.

Before CTR’s players would come into the books and just bet whatever amount of money they had, no questions. And, we never asked their name unless they wanted a comp or to see a show. Most likely it was not their real name but who cared.

Bettors in today’s corporate bookmaking market are considered the enemy. It should be just the opposite. Before the music died at the Stardust we would each year have a huge (and I mean huge) bettor appreciation party for all of our regulars. That was really a great time and the players really appreciated it.

The music really ended when player cards came about. As supervisors and managers we knew who should get comps and who should not. We also knew those needing some food to eat and those who didn’t. We knew when to give out drink tickets, even if you hadn’t make a bet yet.

It must be very hard to work behind the counter of a sports and racebook in today’s corporate market place.

Taking bets back in the 80’s at the Stardust and in the 90’s at the Excalibur was fun. It wasn’t even like work. We had a crew that sometimes would go seven days a week for a month to cover for vacations and none of us cared. Now most writers and supervisors behind the counter (when you can find one) act like they hate to be there.

Not many smiles to be found as the music has died.

It was really fun to go on the Strip when friends came to town. All the people who worked the books knew each other. Parking was easy and valet was even simpler. If you had a spare fin ($5) the valet guy would park you right out front. Now you pay for parking the car yourself. I don’t think so.

As McLean sang in “American Pie,” “drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry.”

There is a lot of excitement around the country with sports betting on the cusp of being legalized. This old bookmaker says don’t get too excited if you are a bettor. With the federal, state and local governments and the leagues getting their piece of the “pie” what will be left for us to win?

We might as well play a lotto ticket.

“And them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye, Singin’ ‘This’ll be the day that I die.’”

Horse sense

Does super trainer Bob Baffert own a cloning machine for horses? Just how does he keep coming up year after year with super horses? He lost a colt last week, McKinzie, with an injury. Many felt he was the real deal to win the Kentucky Derby. Just a little hiccup.

Baffert just sent out third time starter Justify to blast home winning the $1 million Santa Anita Derby by three lengths over Bolt d’Oro. This year’s Derby keeps getting more and more interesting. It’s the March Madness of horse racing this year.

With the Santa Anita spring meet opening this Friday, the Great Race Place will go to racing just three days a week for the first two weeks of the meet. Our Top Play will come in the last race on Friday – a solid single in the late pick five and pick four. Kent Desormeaux rides No. 8 Promnesia in Race 8, which is the last one on the card.

This filly just missed last out going down the hill and finds a great spot for the win. You could be walking around lucky and not even know it.

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