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First time at the horse races at Portland Meadows? We’ve got your back—here are 11 tips to help you win big.

1. Don’t gamble.

Don’t let those peers pressure you. Admission is free. Go for the atmosphere, the spectacle, the majestic thundering creatures and the stalwart jockeys who coax them toward the sublime. Make imaginary bets on your hand. Have a beer or three instead.

2. Don’t bet on white horses.

Seriously, folk songs have been written about this. These prima donnas prance through the paddock and hoof their noses at all ye peasants who dare to gawk; they definitely think they’re better than you. Don’t bet on it.

 3. Choose your own superstition.

Personally, I look for two things. First, the horse has to be dragging her back right hoof as she circles the paddock; clearly, these hoof-draggers think they are bulls, and we all know how bulls act once they explode out of the gate. Secondly, I look for confidence in the horse’s face. I ask myself: could this gal sell me a used car? If so, she’s in my trifecta.

4. Beware of the horses wearing fancy coats.

Like those high-falutin' white horses, these pampered starlets wouldn’t dare push themselves through the Portland mud. Disclaimer: these horses could be the ruthless Nero/dictator type and consequently crush the inferior fillies that dare oppose them. Just the same, don’t bet on them. Do you really want that blood on your hands?

5. Gut and butt.

Go with your primitive, inexplicable instinct. If you know he’s going to win, who cares if the horse is 60 to 1? Oh, and look at his butt. Does it seem like it has a life of its own? Is it massive and full of muscles? If all signs point to yes, all signs point to yes. 

6. Don’t bet on the troublemaker.

Occasionally, a rabble-rouser will infiltrate the paddock and literally start stirring shit up. She’ll kick the wooden slats of the stalls, thrust her ears back, and dare that pipsqueak of a jockey to get on her back. All that negative energy will show up in spades on the homestretch.

7. Bet on the troublemaker.

Occasionally, a rabble-rouser will infiltrate the paddock and literally start stirring shit up. She’ll kick the wooden slats of the stalls, thrust her ears back and dare that pipsqueak of a jockey to get on her back. If the jockey can actually mount this wild beast, she’ll use all this pent up rage to eviscerate the rest of the field.

8. Jockey for position.

Don’t be afraid to bet on the human rather than horse. Especially at a smaller track like Meadows, one particular jockey will often win four races in one day.

9. Close your eyes, spin around, pass out, and when you get up, go with the first horse you see. 

A fool-proof method created by an ancient Kentucky horseman, this requires a bit of personal sacrifice, but is guaranteed to make you rich.

10. Eye contact as a secret pact.

Remember when Stephanie Pizzo looked at you in seventh grade, and you just knew you were going to the winter formal with her? This is just like that. Except your horse might actually show up.

11. Straight trifectas (and exactas).

If you’re going to gamble, go big with a little money. Instead of placing a $2 win on the favorite, place a straight trifect—-the top three horses in specific order for $1 instead. Your odds will plummet instantly, but the suspense and payoff will transcend the measly sum you were originally set to pocket. 

*If you want actual good advice, and a thorough explanation on how to read the racing form, click here.

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