Bad weather closed Bowie Race Course most of this week, but it also pointed up the fact that winter racing is about as hard on area bettors as it is on the horses.
For example, Maryland is one state that does not offer a shoe board listing what kind of shoes a horse is wearing. That information can be very interesting to the serious fan.
The late Billy Stevens, a boxing writer and horse player of much persistence, would pop up at Laurel and Pimlico every time it was raining and grass races were scheduled to be run. Stevens played only those horses being race with "stickers", special shoes with sharp cleats. In one streak at Laurel, 12 straight inners or grass were stickers. Moreover, in some races, only two were and they would finish first and second.
That same year found Damascus and Fort Marcy running in the Washington, D.C. International. Just before the race, Frank Whitely, trainer of Damascus, was asked if his horse had stickers.He replied no, suggested they probably would help Damascus, but said he did not want to gamble on the sharp cleasts not cutting his horse's legs.
Minutes later, Elliot Burch, trainer of Fort Marcy, was asked the same question. He replied, "I wouldn't race my horse without them."
Fort Marcy whipped Damascus by a nose after a long stretch duel in which Damascus appeared unsure of his footing as he ran for the wire.
Horsemen, the ones who most influence the wagering at a track, know what equipment a horse is wearing during the winter. The fans should have the same information.