06/08/2016 1:16PM

Chute sets attainable goals for himself


George Chute was in a familiar spot when called for an interview this week. Even though it was a quiet Monday, he was sitting at home with his Racing Form spread out in front of him. Chute, 65, who double-qualified on the new tournaments.drf.com site, landed both of his entries in the money at last weekend’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize contest, where he walked away with a Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge seat, a National Handicapping Championship seat, and more than $11,000 in cash.

“It was a good visit to New Jersey indeed,” he quipped.

Chute has been playing horses since he was a teenager, and tournaments appeal to him for a number of reasons. “In a tournament, I’m kind of like a racehorse myself,” he said. “I’m competing against these other players, and I enjoy that, and oh, by the way, if you win, you get a lot of money.”

He also believes that playing horses is good for one’s mental health. “As the years pile up, it keeps my mind in good shape,” he said. “Handicappers are mentally sharp people.”

Chute also plays poker and bets sports, but playing the horses remains the most important gambling enterprise to him. “Discipline applies with all three,” he said, “but I find in horse racing, discipline can be a little more difficult to adhere to because you might think, ‘This is it, I’ve got the horse who will win,’ and that can make it harder to be cautious. A lot of times, the more you like a horse, the more dangerous it is.”

His time in the game has taught Chute the importance of maintaining an even keel and judging his own play by the decisions he makes, not the bob that went one way or the other. Having a consistent, well-thought-out approach is another key for him. “If you’re going to go to the racetrack, ask yourself, ‘How much am I willing to lose?’ That’s question No. 1.”

If your answer to that question is $100, Chute suggests you should be happy on the day if you win that amount. In other words, you should set a stop loss for the day and let that amount double as a goal. The next level is to have an overall bankroll set aside for your horseplaying. “Say you have $900, then your bet size should be one-thirtieth of that, $30, so you can lose 30 times before you lose your whole bankroll and you give yourself a chance to recoup,” he said.

Contests are great, he said, because they force you to have discipline while at the same time providing action. “Tournaments keep you involved even when you don’t like anything enough to bet cash on it,” he said, adding that in his cash play, he might handicap a whole card and not make one bet. “And tournaments give you a running start at a big payoff for short money.”

Chute, like Brent Sumja profiled earlier this week, is not a big longshot player. “I’m loyal to form,” he said. “I only go for the big longshots when they are what I need, and it’s rare that I find a horse I love who is longer than 4-1.”

One of the ways he gets an edge is by playing close attention to how the track is playing on a given day. “The riders are out there earning their living, so I watch them closely to determine what they’re doing, what part of the track they are trying to maximize,” he said. “Trying to figure out how the race is going to be run is an intriguing part of the puzzle, and you have to factor in post position and know how the riders are likely to ride.”

Chute is now double-qualified for both the NHC and the BCBC, and he’s looking forward to both experiences, especially the BCBC, where he’s had some close calls. In his four appearances at the BCBC, twice he’s accrued around $20,000 on the first day only to swing and miss with five-figure win bets. “I love the Breeders’ Cup contest because these are the stars of the game, the champions that you want to see perform,” he said. “You’re going to get value for your money, but more than that, it’s a beautiful thing to watch.”

In the end, Chute’s most valuable weapon might be his experience. He said, “I’ve been doing this for over 50 years, and you should learn something after 50 years.”