A former editor of Reader's Digest, Eric Wing used to have to hide his racing betting forms under the New York Times. "Now," as Senior Director of Publicity for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Wing hides the New York Times under his his racing forms.
Horse racing is an awesome sport to watch and as today is the first day of racing at Del Mar, I asked Wing a little bit about how one can make safe bets in the world of sports and in general society. In the racing world, Wing is known for making smart calls that make money. And his blog, Wing Tips, carries his predictions on a variety of topics. To celebrate the beginning of Del Mar, we got Wing to make some calls about the most likely dust-ups, bust-ups, break-ups and knock-ups in Hollywood and sports in the coming year.
So, how do you approach betting?
You try to keep it as scientific as possible but inevitably, whether you're talking about who will win a race or pennant or what might happen in general society, you find yourself, out of necessity, factoring in the intangibles -- who trains that horse? Has he been hot lately? Have there been any changes involved with this team or that team that can get them out of a rut? You take the hard dope and you mix it in with human intangibles that can't be quantified. The best case scenario is when your opinion doesn't match conventional wisdom because that's when you can make money.
So, what's the difference between the hard dope and the human intangibles?
A lot of times, in sports we know the hard reasons but it's harder to know the softer reasons. For example, [on Team X] "everybody's contracts are expiring this year, therefore there is a now-or-never mentality among the team." Those are things you don't pick up from one source. It's an accumulation of everything you read or see on TV and out of 100 things that you read or hear about, 98 will be useless. The other two will strike a chord and you file them away and you say, "Alright, if this scenario comes up, then [I] can use the info."
So, what's the best call you've made in general society?
This goes back aways but it was predicting that George Bush Sr. would become president . He became president in 1988 and I predicted that [would happen] in 1979 based on his background in the CIA. I was feeling pretty good about myself when Ronald Reagan made him his running mate, because then he had a smooth path. And I suppose it was political analysis, but it was largely a function of his background at the CIA and the political climate at the time. He was the head of the CIA, and for the political climate at the time, the public would put a lot of stock in someone with an intelligence background.
What about in sports?
In 2005 I picked the Chicago White Sox to win and around the same time I had Syracuse winning the NCAA tournament. But I have to admit that that was largely a function of me predicting that Carmelo Anthony would turn out to be a good college basketball player, which he did.
Would you say that being a horse racing fan helps you with judgments in outside life?
It really does because horse racing is something that is very susceptible to conventional wisdom. A horse wins a race successfully and therefore people think that it will happen gain. Whereas, from a more calculating standpoint, you know that three things went right and may never happen again.
A lot of times when I'm reading something and people make assertions, I will silently ask myself, "Is this true?" If you throw in "Is this true" at the end of every statement, [it helps you immensely].
And now... some predictions: which celebrity will get married next?
Cameron Diaz and Alex Rodriguez in Las Vegas during the baseball offseason. Diaz has already begun hanging out with the other Yankee wives.
Which celebrity will get engaged next?
Kate Gosselin. She has to line someone up to help take care of all those little ones.
Which celebrity will be pregnant next?
Salma Hayek -- she seems like the type to have a big family
What celebrity will adopt a child from the third world next?
I'm not aware of a celebrity who hasn't already adopted one...
Will Angelina and Brad have another baby?
Yes. Brad supposedly wants another, and usually the man takes longer to come around on this sort of thing.
Will Lindsay Lohan get any big roles after jail? Will she find romance?
Lohan is too physically attractive not to find romance, but she will need to put together a few consecutive years of solid behavior before any big roles come her way.
Who will have the biggest summer music hit?
Rihanna seems like the safest bet here. She has such a compelling combination of voice, looks and street cred.
Which characters from The Hills will have their own spinoff?
Kristin Cavallari is certainly a candidate, but the most likely one is Stephanie Pratt, if only for the prospect of brother Spencer coming along for the ride.
Will LeBron and the Miami Heat win the Champsionships next NBA season?
Barring a significant injury among the big three, yes they will. No other team, not even the Lakers, will be able to match up with them.
Who will be the next judge on American Idol?
My money is on Justin Timberlake.
Which character will get kicked off of this season of the Jersey Shore?
Without a doubt, it is Ronnie. It's just a matter of time until his temper, fueled by alcohol, results in an incident that forces his banishment.
Will Kim Kardashian and Reggie Bush get back together?
No. Reggie won't want his personal life played out on TV, and Kim will be unwilling to give that part of her celebrity up.
Who will The Bachelorette pick -- Roberto or Chris?
Roberto because Ali thinks he's hotter and this isn't Mensa.
Who will be Joe Jonas's next girlfriend?
Miranda Cosgrove because she's a good girl and he stays close to Disney -- Demi Lovato was getting too edgy for him.
Who will play Oprah in the biopic about her life?
Could it be anyone other than Jennifer Hudson?
Who will win the Breeders' Cup?
There's no reason the undefeated supermare Zenyatta can't win the weekend's biggest race, the Breeders' Cup Classic, just like last year.
Will Britney Spears marry her boyfriend?
Yes -- it will end her father's conservatorship once and for all.
Will Jennifer Aniston get married or have a kid?
A kid? Maybe. Married? No. Once bitten, twice shy.
Will Conan win an Emmy?
For sentimental reasons, yes he will.
Will Kristin Stewart and Robert Pattinson become a couple?
Yes -- the conventional wisdom is that they already are one, the official confirmation would likely come after photos come out that confirm the relationship.
Will Larry King stay with his wife?
His track record screams "No!"