Lexington probably has more expert horse racing bettors per capita than most municipalities its size. But still, when the gates open at Keeneland, as they do this weekend, it's a bluffer's game for most of us.
Recent years, however, have given us the betologist, friendly folks clearly marked wearing green vests to help you navigate the vagaries of trifectas and superfectas to the (hopefully) perfecta bet that will at least cover your bar tab for the day.
"Once you know what's going on and you understand, you gain interest," Jake Memolo, one of the original group of Keeneland betologists, told the Herald-Leader in 2013. "And so, for Thoroughbred horse racing, we need more young people in this game. And people like us are here to make that happen."
As a prelude to this year's spring meet, a trio of betologists visited LexGo Central bearing bread pudding and bourbon sauce. We took advantage of the visit to bounce some questions off the trio: Keeneland Select manager Jonathan Fowler and betologists Chris Moore and Sidney Boots.
Q: How does one become a betologist?
Moore: Basically, I graduated from Eastern (Kentucky University) years ago and spent every day I could up here during the meets trying to make some extra money. I just handicapped, learned, talked to people, asked questions.
Boots: I've grown up with my parents liking horse racing, and I saw that I could be a betologist, and I said, 'I'd better interview for it, because it might not come again,' and I got hired ... and I can't wait to help people learn too.
Q: What's the biggest win you've ever had?
Moore: I hit a $2,000 trifecta once, and it was on a $4 bet.
Q: Do people come find you after a good bet to say thank you?
Fowler: The betologists interact with people throughout the day, and I've seen tons of high-fives. Or they'll come back and say, "Well, we didn't get that one. Let's try the third race."