Eddie Delahoussaye knows a few things about winning horse races. As a jockey, he came in first a couple of times during a 35-year career that started in 1967 in New Orleans and ended after a spill at the Del Mar track in San Diego in 2002.
Among his many wins were two that were especially sweet: the 1982 Kentucky Derby, when he was aboard Gato Del Sol, and the 1983 Run for the Roses, when he rode Sunny’s Halo.
Delahoussaye, 52, will be in Las Vegas over the weekend to conduct a seminar on how to bet on the Kentucky Derby. He will be giving his tips and signing autographs starting at 6 p.m. Friday at the race book in Sam’s Town.
Delahoussaye says he has noticed some changes in horse racing over the years. "The purses are bigger (and) the owners have a better chance of making money (but) the crowds are light," he says.
He says he credits off-track betting with helping the sport survive but he thinks the down side to the OTBs is that they have hurt attendance at the tracks, especially in Southern California. "You see only three or four or five thousand (at the tracks) during the week ”¦ 20,000 on the weekend is big nowadays," he said.
Delahoussaye is still suffering neurological problems as a result of the spill that fractured his neck and ended his career on Aug. 30, 2002. Instead of riding horses, the Arcadia, Calif., resident is working in the racing industry as a consultant and appraiser.
He said that in evaluating horses "Naturally you want the breeding. You want them peaking toward the end of the journey, which is the Derby. You want a fresh horse, not one that’s been run hard 10 or 15 times."
He also knows what he doesn’t want to see in a horse just before the race. He said he would advise bettors at the track to check out the horse’s mannerisms and coat during the post parade. If the horse is heavily lathered, he advises bettors to put their money elsewhere. If the horse is "acting up and rambunctious, nine chances out of 10, they’re not going to run well."
In a telephone interview on Saturday he said he sees this year’s Kentucky Derby as "a wide open race (with) 10-12 possible winners." He said he was picking either Friends Lake, who won the Florida Derby, or Smarty Jones, who won the Arkansas Derby, to win it. Delahoussaye said Friends Lake "will come into it fresh; beat the horse that won the Wood (Memorial); he can handle that track; he’s bred to go the distance."
In offering a word of caution, he said he bet on horses he was riding four times during his career and only one of them won. "It’s not only the best horse that wins, it’s the best horse on that day," he said.
He said the best advice he could give to bettors is that they shouldn’t change their mind once they’ve handicapped a race. He said as they head toward the betting window, the worst thing they can do is to "let somebody tout you off your horse."