Monday, October 17, 2011

Herman Cain: Lone Speed Wins — Cheap Speed Stops

In horse racing, it's axiomatic that "lone speed," the frontrunning horse with an uncontested lead, is always a dangerous threat to "steal" the race on the front end over its better regarded competitors. It remains one of the best bets in racing. All the same, astute handicappers assessing the relative strengths and weaknesses of the field can easily spot cheap speed versus the real thing. Just scan the past performances and you'll notice faint-hearted frontrunners who wilt, give way, or stop no sooner are they challenged by a determined competitor galloping down the lane.

Before the big race, media "analysts" of the Idiot Punditocracy pontificate about the outcome and review the various race scenarios: There's the "pace scenario" in which the impact of "early" and "late" speed is assessed to determine a "race shape." There's the "class of the field" scenario, determined by lifetime earnings divided by wins. For example, the winners of mayoralty races in hick towns or the CEOs of pizza chains are classified as low to mid-level claimers compared to stakes competitors who win governorships — NY, TX, CA, IL, MA are Grade I stakes; FLA Grade II; Utah and Alaska, ungraded stakes; senators from OH, IL, NY, TX, CA, MA are Grade I contenders; PA, NJ, MI, CO, WI Grade II; smaller state candidates, Grade III or ungraded stakes (Georgia, Oklahoma and Wyoming, for instance); and finally, all members of Congress regardless of state of origin belong in ungraded stakes at best, or Allowance company.

Idiot Pundits and the confused Republican betting public have reached an early consensus, that this is an exceptionally weak field for the Grade I GOP Presidential Stakes. They all agree that there are more pretenders than contenders. The Prentenders, with no chance of winning the race, are: Michele "LA FILLY LOCA" Bachmann; gimpy, overweight Newt "EL VIEJO RAZA BLANCA" Gingrich; Jon "EL CABALLO INVISIBLE" Huntsman; and Ron "STRAW-POLL-MAN" Paul. But the "contenders" are weak and suspect as well. Willard Mitt Romney has the weakest possible Grade I credentials; plenty of in-the-money finishes at the level with only one Grade I win in Massachusetts. When he challenged one of the greatest thoroughbreds of our time, Ted "LION OF THE SENATE" Kennedy, in a Grade I showdown, Willard faded badly in deep stretch. You might even say he collapsed like an outclassed "non-winners of one" Allowance horse. Ted won like the legitimate 1/9 favorite he was.

 So Willard occupies that murky contender/pretender zone that represents one of the most profitable angles in horse racing: The "false favorite." The false favorite is the racehorse that becomes the favorite of his field not on the strength of his own merits but based on the demerits of his competitors. The betting GOP public rarely bets Willard with confidence. Instead, they assess the strengths and weaknesses of the field and land on Willard by a process of elimination. Astute handicappers will then "TOSS OUT" Willard in search of the surprise winner of the GOP Presidential stakes, usually an "outsider" with "hidden class" who takes a BIG step-up in class and rewards his or her supporters by finishing first at the wire at generous odds.

You see, the oddsmakers are the Idiot Punditocracy, and as anyone who reads this blog will know, they are the WORST linemakers in the business. But here's the thing about false favorites. Just because they are so branded doesn't necessarily mean they're destined to lose. In fact, they win more than their share of races, backed by a jittery group of institutional "chalk players" — unimaginative favorite "investors" and heavy favorite "bridge jumpers" who sweat bullets as their shaky false favorite staggers home barely a nose ahead of some dark horse longshot, at the line. That is, until the false favorite loses. Because the easiest way to defeat the false favorite is to run him or her at a higher class level.

In horse racing, it is also axiomatic that Grade I horses beat Grade II horses and Grade II horses beat Grade III horses. Eventually class will out. So while a false favorite like Willard may have his way with this weak GOP field in early prep races leading up to the Big Show, the Great Presidential Derby run every four years, his suspect class will be tested by the best of the best once he gets there. And false favorites do not fare well in such an environment. No matter how good their trainers and connections are. (Although trainers and handlers sometimes perform minor miracles with fledgling horsepower if they're significantly more competent than their counterparts. Bad trainers don't win races, but they can keep a great thoroughbred from achieving its full potential.)

Willard's backers know all this, and they're not happy. They've made a pragmatic choice to back Willard as a Grade I horse with a steady but unspectacular record, who trains well in the mornings (A "morning glory" that follows eye-popping AM workouts with dull PM races?) and is eating his oats. They want to win. They want to cash in on their investment. And If they get off Willard now for some chimera that proves to be a flash in the pan, they may be shut out. But after all is said and done, the race still has to be run and it's up to Willard to cross the finish line first. Which is where it got "fascinating" for the Idiot Punditocracy, whose quest for the anti-Willard became the obsessive need to redeem their faux favorite analysis. Not one of them saw Herman "THE $9.99 PIZZAMAN" Cain coming.

Casting about for someone who could "beat" Willard, they landed on Texas Governor Rick "CRAWLED OUTTA MY RACIST ROCK" Perry. He was the "main rival" on paper, the "dangerous" counterpart to the "morning line favorite" with promising credentials: Never lost a race, moved up the class ladder easily stomping all who opposed him. Okay, so he won only state-restricted stakes races ... but still. When Perry entered the race, he instantly became the phenomenon known in horseracing as the "overhyped horse." The Idiot Punditocracy embraced Rick "THE RACIST ROCK" Perry as the "hot horse" and immediately made him the odds-on favorite. Those who knew this horse best were skeptical, but their voices were drowned out by the hype. The anxious GOP betting public fell in line, in its growing anxiety to find the anti-Willard.

The Perry "hot horse" hype was soon hoisted on its own petard. You see, there's no such thing as reliable "inside information" that could possibly substantiate the hype. As the GOP rumor mill ground out the Perry "super horse" fantasy, the public was quickly disabused of its grand notions once the race started. Contenders and pretenders lined up before the race. Gingrich tottered; Bachmann snorted; Paul cavorted; Huntsman doddered — the pretenders, true to form. Willard the veteran was well behaved and "professional."

But when Perry moved up to the line his backers were shocked. He looked washy and nervous, he fought his bit and refused to enter his stall until pushed in. Once inside, Perry swooned catatonically. When the race started he cleared his slower rivals as Gingrich flopped, Huntsman crawled, and LA FILLY LOCA bolted — backwards. But then Perry the "hot horse" stumbled out of the gate and began running rank and erratically down the backstretch.


Meanwhile, Willard the tepid favorite broke cleanly, settled in near the rail, and saved ground. A typical though unspectacular start for the veteran campaigner whose backers were still sweating profusely despite the fact their horse was meeting the weakest field so far in his career. The Beltway Boys, Chris, Chuckles, NostraLawrence, et al enjoyed themselves immensely handicapping the race, but this was no fun at all for the "inside money" backing Willard. "Please don't flatten out, please no seconditis, please, please, please" ... they prayed.

Amid the fog of racing, no one paid much mind to the streaky PIZZAMAN breaking from the outside post with lots of high-carb EXTRA CHEESE early speed. Suddenly PIZZAMAN jumped out front in the solo lead. Uh-Oh. This was not the pace scenario anticipated by the Idiot Punditocracy. They had been hawking the Perry "hot horse" allure, and had dismissed Willard as a "plodder," steady but unexciting. Their "analysis" had visualized a suicidal speed duel for the early lead between LA FILLY LOCA, PIZZAMAN, and RACIST ROCK Perry jockeying for position, eventually burning themselves out having "softened up" the strongest "base speed," deemed to be RACIST ROCK Perry, for Willard sitting a perfect trip just off the hot pace to pick up the pieces around the turn. Another scenario had the RACIST ROCK breaking strongly, taking the lead with a burst of speed, and settling in as Willard chased him all the way without gaining ground. "Philly" Chris Matthews favored the latter scenario, arguing that "conditions" favored RACIST ROCK's crazy LUNATIC FRINGE running style.

No one had seen the dangerous LONE SPEED horse PIZZAMAN coming as he cleared all rivals in 9-9-9 tick increments. "HA!" Yelled Chris, apropos of nothing. Chuckles feverishly consulted his charts — had he missed something? His unique "inside access" clients would be furious with this new twist. No one had paid much mind to the railbird TEA PARTY two-dollar bettors who had quietly poured money on PIZZAMAN's nose, making him the post-time favorite when all bets were closed. NostraLawrence sat back with a wily grin, looking to all the world as if he'd known the race would develop this way all along. He unsheathed his iPhone and said, "get me REWRITE."

Chris: "Is PIZZAMAN for real?" Chuckles spread his palms and hunched his shoulders noncommittally. NostraLawrence declared confidently: "Cheap speed. He'll throw in the towel down the lane. Never makes the distance."

Chris: "HA!?!"

No comments: