Many of the people I have met over the years who like to handicap horse races have an affinity for mathematics and some are really good at it. They like the challenge of applying their skills to betting and getting into the mathematical weeds with speed figures and other esoterica.
In February, the National Museum of Mathematics in Manhattan held its annual MoMath Masters contest for charity. The first and third place overall winners were, respectively, a Carnegie Mellon math professor and a computer science professor from New York University. Second place went to a hedge fund analyst with a Ph. D. in computer science.
The Wall Street Journal published (March 5-6, 2016) five of the questions from the competition. Here are three for the math-oriented handicappers out there to wrestle with (answers are at the end of this blog post):
Question 1: Let m be the smallest positive integer such that m² +7m+89 is divisible by 77. What is m?
Question 2: Which of the following must be true about the handshaking that occurred at a recent teachers’ convention?
a. The number of teachers who shook hands an odd number of times is even.
b. The number of teachers who shook hands an even number of times is odd.
c. The number of teachers who shook hands an odd number of times is odd.
d. The number of teachers who shook hands an even number of times is even.
e. The number of times teachers shook hands is odd.
Question 3: Who among the following received a scholarship to study Chemical Engineering with Mathematics at Northwestern University?
a. Heidi Klum
b. Kate Moss
c. Brooke Shields
d. Naomi Campbell
e. Cindy Crawford
If you are talented enough in math to figure out questions like numbers 1 and 2, you should have no trouble in making sense of all of the arcane statistics available to decipher what horse might win a race. Yet that will not necessarily lead you to a net profit. Some days you might be better off choosing the horses to bet on based on numerology or a horse’s name or color.
Answers: Question 1, B; Question 2, A; Question 3, E.
Click here for explanations of the answers, as well as to two more questions.
Horse Racing Business 2016