01/24/2014 9:49AM

Paul Shurman handicaps the weather, earns another entry in NHC


Who needs a travel agent when you have Paul Shurman?

I interviewed Shurman on Monday morning for a players-to-watch article I wrote for DRF. I had told him I was going to be flying to Vegas on Tuesday night, the same night he was. Several hours later, my phone rang, “Pete, it’s Paul. I think you’re going to want to change your flight . . .”

Sure enough, the winter storm expectations in the New York area were so bad that my airline let me change my flight to Thursday free of charge. Shurman went the other direction and decided to fly out Tuesday morning, one step ahead of the blizzard. I presumed this was so he could play in the Last Chance Contest Thursday at Treasure Island.

“Yeah, maybe,” he told me, “I’m not sure how important it is for me to have two NHC entries. It’s so easy to split your tickets in a contest like this.”

This wasn’t the first time Shurman discussed with me his fear of splitting tickets. In fact, we talk all about it – and how to possibly avoid it – in my book “The Winning Contest Player.” It’s a topic that clearly concerns him.

In the end, Shurman decided to play in the Last Chance, taking multiple entries at that. How did he run? Well, there’s bad news and good news. The bad news is that he split tickets. The good news is that each of his two tickets ended up with astronomical scores and he actually won two additional qualifications to the NHC proper – though only one will count since he was already in the tournament. Of course, cynical horseplayer I am, I have to wonder: Did the rider move too soon?

In the end, Shurman was thrilled to have made the decision to come out early. I was thrilled that he saved me a day of my life sitting around JFK. The man picks winners as easily as he predicts the weather. I’m starting to think there’s nothing Shurman can’t do.

Saturday's mandatory races announced

Saturday’s eight mandatory races are, in chronological order: Gulfstream Park, Race 5 (11:36 a.m. Pacific); Tampa Bay Downs, Race 8 (12:53 p.m.); Tampa Bay, Race 9 (1:22 p.m.); Gulfstream, Race 10 (2:03 p.m.); Santa Anita, Race 7 (3 p.m.); Santa Anita, Race 8 (3:30 p.m.); Santa Anita, Race 9 (4 p.m.); and Golden Gate Fields, Race 8 (4:15 p.m.).