Saturday, February 8, 2014

#509 Week 1 of the Kentucky Derby SHOWdown!

Sorry if you find this post completely boring....Horse racing gets very little attention here, unlike Australia, except when it's the Kentucky Derby. In fact horse racing in America is about as popular as rugby union in Melbourne. As some nark here said, "Horse racing is an old, dying sport, for old, dying fans". The one exception is the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. The nation doesn't exactly stop for the Derby, but it does garner quite a bit of media attention during the lead up. Even the NY Times carries the occasional racing story related to the Derby. One thing that is breathing a little bit of life back into US racing is the tipping contest, or "handicapping contest" as they call it here. They are modelling it on poker tournaments. Pros will pay big money for a seat at the NHC [National Handicapping Contest] at Las Vegas for huge prizes for who ever makes the most money on a day's punting with $20 win bets per race - a bit more sophisticated than the "Punters Club" at the Goulburn Hotel on a Saturday afternoon. Trivia: which President is that on the $100 bill in the graphic? Hint - the $100 bill's nick name is a "Benjamin". Answer at the bottom
Answer: It was a trick question. The picture is Benjamin Franklin. He was never elected as President of the US, although he was one of the 'Founding Fathers'! Anyway, a variation on these handicapping contests are novelty contests like the SHOWdown which I have entered for free and play from home. (I went in one for the Breeders Cup last year and won my comp although there was no prize at that level, but I did have bragging rights). In the SHOWdown, over the next 11 weeks I have to "hit the board" (i.e. my selection must come first, 2nd or 3rd) with twenty consecutive $20 bets in each of the 19 prep races leading into the Kentucky Derby; Bet #20 is the Derby itself. First prize is $1,000,000, but it's harder than it sounds, as these are early season 3 year olds running at tracks all over the country, with minimal exposed form and rapidly and unpredictably improving. Today was the first round, the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita in L.A. (I don't think he was any relation to the Bobbie Lewis run at Flemington over the spring carnival) and thankfully my selection Midnight Hawk ran third, so I'm alive going into Week 2. By the way, It's called a SHOWdown, because third is called the "show" here as opposed to second which is the "place" and they are separate bets, not just Win & Place like back home. To bet each way here you have to buy 3 tickets, Win, Place & Show. They call it "Across".

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