If you were the betting type — and you had the right system — there is lots of money to be made at the County Fair. That is if you could bet on the outcome of the livestock shows. Unfortunately, it’s looking like the only legal betting is on the horse racing. But just in case they extend their rules, or you can find the illegal bookie taking bets on the sheep shearing and other events, I’ve got that system. Well, actually, I have two tips you can take to the bank. The third? Let’s say, I’m working on it.

My first system is the most time-tested. Let’s call it Lisa’s Rule of Handler Pulchritude. I’ve been observing sharply now for two fair seasons. I’ve been taking pictures and tabulating results. Folks, this one really works.

All things being relatively equal, the livestock handled by the cutest kid is going to win the ribbons. I’m not saying the judges are biased. I’m saying there is a weird osmosis going on where the cutest kids are raising the handsomest livestock. Don’t believe me? Check out this post from last year when I first formulated this theorem.

Today, I had occasion to refine a subset of this rule. That is, if all things are grossly unequal, it’s going to take the most fabulous looking animal to beat the one handled by the cute kid. Here’s the photographic proof. This little girl was in the Angus Bull Showing. She had the smallest, youngest bull. As in, the other competitors had about 800 pounds on hers. You’d think there was no way she was going to take it — even with Theorem One in full force. Yet it was the longest, most excruciatingly drawn out competition. The other bulls were flexing and strutting like a field of Mr. Olympia contestants. Her tiny little bullock was clearly about to get sand kicked in his face. Yet, the judges, like those of us in the audience, just couldn’t tear their eyes away from this perky little handler.

bullock whisperer at Sonoma County Fair

We were charmed as she sweet-talked her bullock like a little Cattle Whisperer.

bullock kiss at Sonoma County Fair

We let out a collective “AHHHHHHH” as her bullock kissed her.

girl and bullock sonoma county fair

We marvelled at how she handled her animal by mimicking the movement she wanted from him. When he needed to lift his head up, she lifted her head up. He followed.

In the end, a massive Arnold Schwarzenegger-like bull won. But the judges had to rush up to the little girl and tell her to come back next year when she and her bull will surely take First Place. You got that right. Get your bets ready now.

Next is what I call Paul’s Rodeo Bling Correlation: in rodeo events, the cowboy with the most bling is the one to bet on. Here’s my rationale. Cowboys are a tough lot and only real accomplishments impress them. So any unskilled dude who shows up with fancy buckles, turquoise-studded tack and fancy tooled boots is going to get a severe stomping. That means, when you see a cowboy in an event who has all those accoutrements, he’s really earned the right to wear them. He or she, that is. Today my theory played out with a blinged-up cowgirl who led her team to an easy and impressive victory in the Hide Herding Event.

hide herding at Sonoma County Fair

This is an event where a herd of numbered calves are let loose. A team of three cowboys has to pick out only the calves with their assigned numbers and herd them into a pen.

cowgirl hide herding

We realized one of the teams had a rhinestone studded cowgirl and her equally blinged horse in the lead.

hide herding

She may have looked like a rhinestone cowgirl, but she was all business in the arena, screaming like a banshee and clearly in charge of her two cowboy partners. Of course, her team won handily.

With my success with these last two methods, I dragged Andy over to the horse racing convinced that I could come up with some sort of formula that would win us the big bucks. We ambled over to where they were exercising the horses before the next race.

That’s when it hit me. Kids! Because they’ve had less time to develop preconceived notions, they tend to notice things we adults miss.

kid at horse racing track

I muscled my way up to this young Huck Finn lookalike and started picking his brain.

“So which horse do you think is going to win.”

Without hestitation, he answered: “The biggest one.”

Okay, that makes sense and is so beautifully simple, it might work.

“So if I put all my money on the biggest one — that would be Number Four — you could guarantee I’d make lots of money?”

That shook the kid’s confidence.

“Well, maybe you want to bet on the one that’s jumping around the most. He might have the most energy.”

I wasn’t having any of this: “Hey kid, you need to be confident in your choices. Pick me a winner.”

That’s when Andy piped in: “Look at that little horse over there. Seeing him against the rest of the horses will be like seeing Oscar at the dog park trying to race those rescued greyhounds.”

I wasn’t having any of this. I had my bets on Number Four, based on my ten year old tout’s prediction.

As we settled in to watch the race, Andy noted that the Oscar Terrier horse had 11 to 1 odds. Out of curiosity, as the starting gun sounded, I asked Andy what usually happened when little Oscar raced greyhounds at the dog park.

“Oh, Oscar always wins.”

And in the photo finish, the little horse took First Place.

I’m refining that third theorem to something about correlations between racehorses and Smooth Fox Terriers.

Stay tuned and hold your bets for now.

(Today’s fair pix here.)