04/28/2016 1:03PM

Fornatale: Broth goes old school to qualify


Rick Broth is an anachronism in the contest world, where many players these days come armed with laptops and spreadsheets. He’s so old school that he’s still upset about the Form abandoning the larger format in favor of the current slimmer version.

“I want to be buried with my Racing Form,” he said. “Guys make fun of me with their fancy computer programs while I’m walking around with my print version of the Daily Racing Form, all disorganized and carrying paper around. But I got my revenge at Keeneland.”

Two weeks ago, Broth won the Grade One Gamble, netting over $20,000, plus seats to the National Handicapping Championship (his second for 2016) and the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

Heading into the last race, Broth had a sizable bankroll. In a funny twist, he would have ended up with more money if he’d had less before the nightcap. They key horse was 30-1 shot Kasaqui, who was his bet of the day. “Before the tournament I told [contest director] Jim Goodman that I’d probably be stuck at the end and I’d just bet a tri key six-all-all,” he said.

Keeneland rules require that you bet half of your bankroll in one of the last two races, and Broth was already sitting on a pile of money at that point. Instead of going strong with his main opinion, Broth decided to hedge, spraying $5,000 around the race, most of it on horses he didn’t really like. He still hit, of course, but given his opinion and how much he bet he probably should have won more than he did. “I hedged way more than I would normally want to,” he said, “but I’d never been in that position before, I’m usually way at the back.”

Broth, 58, now lives in the suburbs of Atlanta but he grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and cut his teeth at Thistledown, going racing with his dad.

“I used to run tickets for Eddie DeBartolo Sr.,” he said, referring to the wealthy owner of Thistledown, “He would fly into the infield in his plane and sit next to us in the clubhouse.”

These days Broth, 58, is the southeast regional manager for a company called Tectum, who install acoustic panels all over the world. He named a horse after the company, but Tectum the equine wasn’t as successful as Tectum the company.

If you’re going to play in contests, you have to accept that a certain amount of the results aren’t going to make sense to you. Broth mentioned a recent winner, key to a Las Vegas contest in which he played. “The horse was some maiden claimer at Tampa, 70-1, beaten double digits in both starts, bred by Mr. Ed,” he lamented, “and if you didn’t have that horse you weren’t winning that contest.”

Broth accepts those types of results as part of the ups and downs of the game. “Right now I’m on a little hot streak,” said Broth, who won his first NHC seat on NHCQualify.com three weeks ago in addition to his Keeneland win, “but three months from now I’ll be eating canned soup. I don’t care who you are, it’s a very humbling game and it makes me laugh when you hear some of these guys at the NHC who have gotten cocky.”

As for the specifics of his handicapping methodology, Broth plays it close to the vest, though he indicated that he relies heavily on breeding. “It’s always been my secret and it’s always been good to me,” he said before admitting that there are particular sires and families he tends to follow and bet.

This will be Broth’s third NHC and his fifth BCBC. “The BCBC is hands down the greatest thing there is,” he said. “The experience of hanging over the railing watching Zenyatta and Blame was incredible. Just the experience of being at the Breeders’ Cup is the greatest thing there is.”