01/27/2008 3:29AM

NHC Day 2


LAS VEGAS -- The phone rings in my room at the Red Rock here Saturday morning just after 9 a.m., and the unfamiliar voice on the other end of the line is polite, apologetic and filled with despair.

"Mr. Crist, I'm really sorry to bother you, but I didn't know who else to call or what to do. I'm here in Las Vegas and my wife is a contestant in your tournament and I have to get an urgent message to her."

He gave me her name, badge number and seating assignment in the tournament area of the racebook. I told him I'd be glad to help, and steeled myself to go deliver whatever urgent bad news was coming for this poor woman, perhaps a death in the family or a sick child.

"Please tell her," he said, "that she should bet the 4 horse in the 7th at Santa Anita."

I swear I'm not making this up.

I of course told him that I couldn't be relaying betting advice to tournament contestants, and he continued to be perfectly polite and said he understood and apologized for bothering me. And when I told the story from the podium at the NHC Awards Dinner tonight, the guy gamely stood up at the table where he was sitting with his wife and took a bow. Horseplayers, you gotta love 'em.

As you've probably heard by now, the NHC ended in a runaway victory for Richard Goodall of Las Vegas, a retired lawyer, fulltime tournament professional and five-time NHC qualifier. That's one time fewer than his wife of eight years, Sally, to whom he said he's giving the $500,000 first prize. He said he was "in that zone we all get into so infrequently" for both days of the tournament, putting together back-to-back strong performances to trounce his 276 opponents.

Goodall turned $120 in bets into a $272.30 return, the only contestant to double his money. That may at first sound highly unimpressive. If you go to the track and bet $120 and get back $272.30, it's hardly having the day of a lifetime -- that's about what you'd get if you bet $120 to win on a single $4.50 winner. It's an entirely different feat, however, to turn $120 into $272 by making 30 $2 win/place bets, half of them on races you're forced to bet. If it sounds so easy, go try it some time -- preferably in the NHC finals, where such success would have won you half a million.

george quinn More than 1 year ago
All this fuss over race callers is interesting. I personally think people miss Tom Durkin because he is so dramatic. I mean lets face facts, he called this years preakness as to close to call when Curlin was such a clear winner that Robby Albarado put his stick up in victory. If Ed Burgar at Los Alamitos can seperate a half of a nostril why can't the Mike Battaglia's and Tom Durkins step up and seperate head finishes. After all they are right on the wire. George In Lexington Ky. P.S I feel they are obligated to call it. After all they are race "CALLERS"
Flip Dawson More than 1 year ago
Re Trevor Denman and his mistakes calling races, up here in Canada, we have what I feel is the best race caller in North America. Dan Loiselle originally called the trots at Woodbine, and then moved over to the flats. I am a picky sort of guy, who doesn't take sides just because I go to Woodbine, but Danny Boy is the real deal. I think he has won calling contests at other tracks. A close finish comes back as, "It's picture time!!" Ken Middleton now calls the jugheads, and one finish by a standout horse, gave us the information as, " It's HUSSY CHASER in a bloodbath at the finish line." Picture that being yelled into a mike.
Nick Briglia More than 1 year ago
I hope if you are betting a 1000 to win on any horse that you have a bankroll in the neighborhood of 40,000 dollars. Otherwise you are seriously overbetting your bankroll and are guaranteed to go broke. Especially at 9-5 where you have to hit 4 out of 10 to make any money. Good luck with that. All successful gamblers look for an edge. The edge is knowing something the public doesn't or taking advantage of the public when their majority opinion is wrong. If you agree with the majority don't waist your time betting. Go get a hot dog and wait for a better opportunity.
don auld More than 1 year ago
Steve, thanks for the tourney,played poorly but did enjoy the experience. One suggestion for next year at the Rock, mayb seats could be rotated on day 2 to allow the people without a TV to have one on the 2nd day. From my seat I could not even clearly make out the odds, thanks Don
jcp More than 1 year ago
Obviously, the point of the contests is to see who can win the most money, not pick the most winners. We would all rather pick 1 winner out of 10 races and win $1000 than 9 of 10 and win $100. The qualifiers are hard, but fun. At DelPark, you get lunch included, plus a shirt, tote bag, or some other token gift.
mlnj More than 1 year ago
Revised Handicapping Contest Rules to largely eliminate guys who are willing to take 20-1 on horses that go off at 30-1 ... Most money won after tossing each bettor's highest price winner.
Angelo Bitsis More than 1 year ago
Teresa (and others): Thanks for the clarification/correction on the botched Denman call. And of course I meant the '06 Distaff, not '07. The point is, as others have mentioned, Denman is way overrated. Agree on Curt Becker as a potential replacement. Also think Larry Colmus (Mth/GP) would be better than Trevor. Giving away my age here, but who I really miss are Fred Capposella and Harry Henson (Sr.). Durkin is the only one I've ever heard who comes close to those two. A thought about all this discussion on handicapping: when we play the races isn't our goal to make the most money? I don't think we care if we do it by picking multiple consecutive winners or one bomb. We're only interested in the bottom line, so shouldn't that be the criterium for determining who is the "best handicapper?"
Eric_T_ma More than 1 year ago
unitas, teresa i believe the injuries in the 2006 distaff were to pine island and fleet indian...not indian vale....she raced in this years distaff.
Teresa More than 1 year ago
Angelo: while Indian Vale broke down in that Distaff, she went wide and I think Denman caught it. Pine Island went to her knees, throwing Castellano, and Denman never said a word. As a denizen of the NY tracks, I feel like a homer as fan of Durkin, but I'd rather listen to him than anyone else.
Wayne80 More than 1 year ago
c, you make a very good point. A contest tests a particular skill, in the current format it tests the ability to show a profit betting racehorses. A contest created to simply pick winners tests a different skill, pure handicapping. Handicapping has nothing to do with the tote board. Wagering to show a profit requires handicapping first, comparing the data to the odds board, then finding overlays. That is what is being tested in these contests so you are correct that they should not be called handicapping contests.