Why We Love This Game — Written by Kevin Schnoor
Hangin’ with the ‘Big Boys’… and Then Some
Horse racing has been a part of my life ever since I was born. My dad owns racehorses and would always bring me to Monmouth Park. There, he taught me how to read a form and things to look out for when betting a race. Racing has built a very strong bond between my father and I. At dinner, we always discuss what horses are pointing to which race or what we thought of a certain prep race. I enjoyed having someone to discuss our sport with and learning more about it each day.
I am 22. No one my age, that I know, really cares about the sport much and they don’t get the passion that I have for it. That said, I decided to start a Twitter account strictly for horse racing because I wanted to talk to people that “get” it.
I have become friends with many people on Twitter. We have become something of a family, if you will. It had come to my attention that Josh Hanson, better known as @Barbaro1420 on Twitter, had created a handicapping contest for us Twitter people.
If you haven’t read Josh’s story, I will give you a brief recap: At his local OTB on Kentucky Derby day last year, he told a fellow gambler that Commanding Curve was going to run big at huge odds in the Derby and the man he told scored due to Commanding Curve’s second place finish at 37-1. As a thank you, said gambler, gave Josh $1000 dollars. Instead of pocketing it, Josh decided he wanted to meet some of his Twitter followers and was going to use the $1000 to send the winner of his contest to Woodbine for a weekend this coming summer.
I thought this was a really cool gesture and the interactions I have had with Josh have all been positive, so I decided to enter. The contest took place this past Saturday, February 21. The format was one mythical Win-Place wager on one race at 10 different tracks of Josh’s choosing. Winner take all. Because like Ricky Bobby said, “if you ain’t first you’re last.”
I wanted to see how I stacked up against the really good ‘cappers on Twitter. I respected everyone entering and I really didn’t give myself much of a chance. By pure math, I had less than a 3% chance of winning, but when I considered the quality of the field I thought my chances were nonexistent.
Let’s get to the contest… (races listed in order in which I watched them)
Race 1: Tampa Bay Race 2
My choice was the logical Tipsy Toes on the class drop. He sat right off the leader and finally got by that one late. I was on the board, like many others, but was happy to get rid of the goose egg next to my name.
Race 2: Laurel Race 7
Laurel started its card on Saturday, but weather forced this race to be cancelled. No race was added, we went on like the contest was just 9 races.
Race 3: Fairgrounds Race 6
I didn’t like any of the favorites in this race, so I went with a first time starter, Adele Dazeem, who was going to be a long shot. The horse was making a run and at the top of the stretch I thought my 15-1 shot had a chance, but the horse flattened out late. The race was won by a 24-1 bomb. Someone in the contest chose this horse and I thought it was over then and there. The combined WP price was $67 and change. I would have to be almost perfect to reach this number based on the horses I chose. But hey, anything can happen.
Race 4: Gulfstream Park Race 10
I chose Grand Tito in this race because I thought he’d get a perfect trip behind dueling leaders Mr. Online and Excaper. It didn’t pan out exactly how I envisioned, but Grand Tito was able to clunk up for second and give me place money ($5). So now my grand total is 15.20.
I checked Twitter because the leaderboard was being posted after each race and I wanted to see how badly I was behind. When I opened up the leaderboard, there was a Kevin S in 2nd at $50.20. I tweeted at Josh asking if there was another Kevin S because, if not, there had to be a mistake. There was no way I had this much money. He told me that I was the only Kevin S and the scores were correct.
What happened was the Louisiana Downs race that I forgot about took place BEFORE the Gulfstream Race. I must have hit a longshot in this race to bridge the gap on the leaderboard. I thought that was impossible though because the horse I chose was 7/2 ML.
Race 5: Lousiana Downs Race 13
This was a QH race that was all first time starters. I have never handicapped a QH race in my life; I was way out of my element here. The form looked similar to a Thoroughbreds form and I kind of taught myself how to handicap it. I saw that the 6 JB Red Scorpion had a bullet work, and solid trainer % with first time starters. That was good enough for me.
My horse went off at 14-1 and beat the odds on favorite by a neck.
Race 6: Turf Paradise Race 6
I picked Why Two who I knew would be a short price. He was shipping in from Santa Anita and towered over this field. He won easy at extremely short odds. Add $4.80 to my total. Now I am at $55.
Race 7: Oaklawn Race 9
I gave California Coast another chance in here because the connections paid $220k for him and he was well bet in debut and was working well since then. Channing Hill made a big middle move and was able to sustain it to the wire and scored at 9/2 (I got $17.20 for WP). I had taken the lead in the contest at $72.20.
Race 8: Hawthorne Race 8
My pick in this race, Summer in Montana, stunk and ran dead last. I lost the lead. I knew I had two short price horses coming up in the next two races so I knew I would probably have to hit both races to win.
Race 9: Santa Anita Race 9
I picked Baffert’s horse Gimme Da Lute who was dropping down from open maidens into Cal Bred Maidens. He stalked the pace and kicked clear to win going away. I retook the lead and added $6.20 to my total. So I knew all I had to do was win the last race to win the contest.
There was like two hours in between the Santa Anita race and the Los Al race. It had been snowing all day and recently stopped. My father and I used this time to go out and shovel. We came back in and there was still about an hour until the race. I was confident and nervous at the same time. I liked my pick, but then again, I really don’t know much about quarter horse racing.
Race 10: Los Al Race 3
I chose Vosmos who had some good back races and was getting reunited with the rider that had ridden him during those races. As they were getting in the gate the TVG guys were talking about how he was the horse to beat. I hated that. I always feel like that jinxes it. But that wasn’t the case this time. Vomvos broke smoothly and won by a half a length. A rather short priced horse had run second so I knew I had won it because no one could have caught me with longshot place money.
Even though I knew I had won, I wanted to see the final leaderboard before celebrating. When it was posted, my dad and I started high-fiving because I had officially won.
I had just beaten some extremely good handicappers and all the tweets started rolling in congratulating me on my win. This was cool because usually I am the one congratulating them on big scores. The contest showed to me that I can hang with the big boys.
Unfortunately, I have a prior commitment the weekend of the reward and can’t attend. I talked to Josh and told him to send the second place finisher in my place. I am sure that both of them will have a fantastic time and, if I am lucky, maybe I’ll get to meet Josh somewhere down the line.
Josh’s kind gesture of running the contest and all the congratulations I received from my Twitter family meant a lot to me. I was able to have an extremely fun Saturday playing the races and it didn’t cost me a penny.
This is Why I Love this Game.
We thank Kevin for sharing his story on DanonymousRacing.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @Downthestretch7.
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