01/26/2008 1:35AM

NHC Day 1


LAS VEGAS -- So maybe it's not such a bad thing the National Handicapping Tournmaent is out in the middle of the desert at the Red Rock this year. According to the Associated Press, "A midmorning fire on the roof of the Monte Carlo hotel-casino forced guests and gamblers to flee and sent flaming embers raining down on the Las Vegas strip."

Apparently no one was seriously injured, and there was minimal damage, confined to the facade of the building. The hotel, however, remains evacuated, with guests relocated to rooms at other MGM-Mirage properties.

Had the tournament been at the Monte Carlo, that would have made for 277 pretty cranky horseplayers, who would have been forced to flee the racebook right about the time the first mandatory race, the 4th from Aqueduct, was going off.

The players at the Red Rock who wasted time handicapping Friday's races from Oaklawn and Santa Anita were pretty cranky already after news came in earlier in the morning that both tracks cancelled their Friday cards, due to ice storms(OP) and water(SA). So Day One tournament action was confined to Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, Golden Gate, Gulfstream and Tampa, and there were no Southern Californians or Arkansans among the top five on the leaderboard, which was topped by David Neuberger of Forest Hills, NY, who qualified by finishing third in the Aqueduct tournament Nov. 4. Neuberger's return on his 15 $2 win and place bets was $150.50, $1.60 more than five-time NHC qualifier Richard Goodall.

Last year's champ, Stanley Bavlish, was one of nine players who finished the day tied for 269th place with a total of, well, $0. I mention this not to knock Bavlish, an excellent handicapper and genuinely good guy who wore our equivalent of the Miss America tiara with grace and honor this past year, but to show what a hit-or-miss proposition any tournament can be. Anyway, unless the reigning Handicapper of the Year posts the highest one-day total in NHC history on Day Two, someone else will be wearing that tiara and getting the winner's check for $500,000 by Saturday night.

--Played a little poker at the Red Rock and while it was perfectly pleasant, it wasn't very rewarding. The resort advertises itself as "The Locals' New Favorite," which is nice for the ambience but also translates as "No Crazy Drunken Tourists Going All-In With 7-4."

A pity. The game is so much easier when the competition is inebriated, inept, or both.

Primeiro Cachorro More than 1 year ago
Senõr Steve, I have noticed in the DRF that some sires' stud fees are not listed, Hold That Tiger, Commendable, Wheaton and Pine Bluff to just name a few. Is this an oversight on DRF's part or are the owners of these horses keeping the fees on the QT and very hush, hush?
Roger More than 1 year ago
Hi! Mr. Crist, I just have a question regarding the Santa Anita drainage problem. Why don't they try putting a tarp around the track so that the rainwater will just slide to the side down the drain. It's a lot of tarp but it's probably better than losing 7 days of revenue.
tony More than 1 year ago
Steve, Happy to hear your vegas adventures . One question with this mess @ SA how are they going to hold the Breeders cup there in the fall????????
EJXD2 More than 1 year ago
I remember a Derby diary in which you talked about playing $20-$40 (or maybe $10-$20) at Caesar's. It sounds from your post as if you have also made the switch to NL like most everyone else. Does the NTRA/DRF share any of the vig (is there any?) it makes off all the qualifying tournaments throughout the year with the tracks? Or is the presumed extra action on contest tracks considered payment enough?
BitPlayer More than 1 year ago
I'm surprised the NTRA and/or DRF doesn't do more to encourage horseplayers to follow the NHC in real time, and perhaps play along. Some possibilities: an online scoreboard, updated after each mandatory race, charting each player's picks and progress (similar to what the PGA does for its Tour events); a live blog, complete with thoughts on how to play mandatory races; and an online qualifying tournament for next year's NHC using the mandatory races from this year's NHC. Something along these lines would start to build name recognition for top handicappers (not just the champs) and get a lot of players focused on the same races (which is when the game is most fun).
Skip to my Lou More than 1 year ago
Any reason why each track doesn't use the same rules as the NHC? Read where one guy hit a $4,000 pick 3, and then just coasted the rest of the way, what skill is there in that???
Floppydog More than 1 year ago
Trying to think of a good name for the poker monkey. Stacks? Chip? River? Flop?