01/29/2014 2:02PM

Santa Anita: A working man, a lawyer, and a pick six carryover

Brad Free
Kalic Chambers walks hots for Doug O'Neill and sells beer at Santa Anita on weekends.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Beer vendors at the racetrack generally serve only beer. Then there is the guy that also dispenses handicapping advice, helpful for pick six carryovers.

Kalic Chambers is a hard-working family man. Six days a week he walks hots for trainer Doug O’Neill. On weekends, Chambers pours beer from a cart on the Santa Anita apron. Some day, he hopes to become a trainer.

“This is a tough game to break into,” Chambers said. “I just want to be around it someway, somehow.”

You could call Chambers, 31, an average guy who hustles. He must, to make ends meet for his wife, Jasmine, 7-year-old daughter, and 2-year-old son. So he walks hots, sells tip sheets at Del Mar, pours beer, and was handicapper-host for groups at Hollywood Park. When he works long days, Chambers spends the night in a tack room. He rides the bus between his home in Inglewood and the track in Arcadia.

It is a tough way to support a family, and his wife understands when he works late and leaves early.

“She is very understanding,” Chambers said, grinning ear to ear. It is a Chambers trademark – his big, wide smile.

Another trademark is that Chambers happens to be a darn good handicapper.

“I’ve read almost every handicapping book there is – Andy Beyer, Ray Talbot, Mark Cramer, Jim Quinn – I’ve read them all,” he said.

Chambers’s beer station at Santa Anita is a popular hangout.

“Every Sunday, I buy a Racing Form and lay it out on top of my table,” he said. “Whoever comes to my stand and wants to read the Racing Form and talk horse racing and drink beer, they can.”

No wonder he has a steady stream of regular customers. Some are just thirsty. Others enjoy the camaraderie. Late Sunday afternoon, Jan. 26, Chambers was nearing the end of a long work day that began before 5 a.m. walking hots. At midday, he changed to his concessionaire uniform.

The pick six had a double carryover, and Chambers planned to take a small shot.

“I’m a small-time bettor – $48 to $72 is my standard ticket,” he said. “I’m a weekend warrior.”

The $48 ticket he intended to put in last Sunday relied on logical handicapping. Chambers makes his own pace figures, pores over race charts, understands and applies nuances, and is keenly aware of streaks – hot and cold. Chambers said he has hit several pick sixes, small ones ranging from $1,700 to $3,800.

But the ticket Chambers planned to submit would be knocked out early. He liked Pure Loyalty in the first leg, race 4. Pure Loyalty finished third.

At the beer cart every Saturday and Sunday, Chambers has many friends. One regular customer is a lawyer from North Hollywood who requested anonymity. Chambers asked him to run the $48 pick six bet, with singles in the first and last legs.

“He said, ‘I love your ticket,’ ” Chambers recalled. “He said, ‘I’ll put in $48, but add the No. 3 horse in the first leg, he has a pace advantage.’ ”

The ticket doubled to $96. They split the cost.

Horizontalyspeakin was the last horse added, racing in the first leg of the pick six. Horizontalyspeakin wired the field at $6. Thanks, lawyer. The next four winners were all Chambers.

In race 5, Chambers used two droppers. “It’s the most [effective] angle in the game – maiden dropper into maiden claiming,” he said.

Writer Fever won at $8.40.

In race 6, Chambers went three deep, including Diversy Harbor for the hot trainer-jockey combo of Tom Proctor and Gary Stevens, who were 26 for 91 together over the past year entering the race.

“Proctor and Stevens, right now, is the best [combination] in horse racing,” Chambers said.

Diversy Harbor exploded late and paid $13.

Race 7 was easy. Chambers used two, including $5 winner Chelios. He would be the only winning favorite in the pick six.

Race 8 was a turf sprint stakes. “Coming down the hill is such a specialty,” Chambers said.

Lakerville and Sweet Swap “were the most professional horses down the hill,” he said. Both were returning from long layoffs. No worries.

“It was Barry Abrams and John Sadler, good horsemen, no problem,” Chambers said. “I’m never scared of a layoff if the trainers are good.”

Lakerville and Sweet Swap finished one-two. Lakerville paid $19.60.

It was good handicapping in four of five races. Chambers’s only miss was the first leg, but his lawyer friend had kept him in the game.

With his ticket 5 for 5, it came down to one final race.

Chambers had been here before, on June 1, 2007. That day, he and Jasmine got married, already with an infant daughter. They took no honeymoon; they were a working couple. And later that evening at Hollywood Park, Chambers went 7 for 8 and won $8,000.

“My wife picked me up and I said, ‘Baby, welcome to our new life,’ ” Chambers said, cracking up while describing the memory. He knows it is never that easy.

That night was good, but could have been better. His $8 pick six ticket was 5 for 5 and live to two horses in the final race. They finished second and fourth.

Here he was again, in 2014, on the brink of a score. But the final race was a mess. It was $12,500 claiming race for nonwinners of two.

“It’s the most indecipherable, classless race of the day,” he said. “In those kinds of races, you either single, or go all.”

Fit to Rule was a first-time gelding. In a weak race, Chambers said: “I use first-time geldings blindly. And it’s an O’Neill [trainee] that I personally help take care of. He should be able to beat that field.”

Chambers had him singled.

The field raced through the stretch, past the cart where Chambers pours beer. Fit to Rule was fourth and flying.

“At the sixteenth pole, he was rolling, and you could tell he was going to win,” Chambers said.

Chambers jumped on top of his cart, raised his hands in the air, and shouted, “I’m king of the world!”

Everyone was cheering. “It was like a 100-man celebration in front of my stand,” he said.

Good guys sometimes win. Fit to Rule was first by a head at $15.60, ending a perfect ticket.

Kalic Chambers, small bettor, hit big.

His pick six paid $56,017.60.