07/11/2016 1:46PM

Beychok wins his way into Saratoga contest


How important is the Saratoga tournament to Michael Beychok? “Other than the National Handicapping Championship, it’s the tournament I want to win the most,” said the man who won $1 million at the NHC in 2012. “Yes, Breeders’ Cup is wonderful, too, but Saratoga is a major. I love it there. You have the biggest, best handicappers, it’s such a great venue, they do a great job, and it’s freaking Saratoga.”

Beychok won’t have to buy his entry to the 2016 Saratoga tournament, which was formally announced last week by the New York Racing Association. Beychok won two entries Saturday courtesy of DRF Tournaments.

In truth, “Saratoga tournament” is actually a misnomer this time around. For the first time, NYRA will be offering two separate one-day events instead of a two-day affair. The contests, both using a live-bankroll format, will take place Wednesday, Aug. 10, and Thursday, Aug. 11. The buy-in is $1,000, and of that total, $600 will act as a live bankroll, while $400 will fund the prize pool, all of which will be paid back in the form of cash and seats to the NHC and Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

NYRA has entered the live-bankroll game in a big way over the past two years. “NYRA is committed to offering the best tournaments and hospitality for horseplayers,” said NYRA player host Donny Nelson. “At the inaugural Belmont Stakes Challenge, we hosted a full field of talented players competing for big money and seats to the most lucrative contests.”

The qualifier that Beychok won last weekend was the first of several contests leading up to the August event. “We were thrilled to see four players qualify to [the Belmont Betting Challenge] through DRF feeders and view them as an effective way to raise awareness and expand the roster of interested contestants,” Nelson said. “The DRF Tournaments team has the pulse of the contest world.”

In Saturday’s contest, which used the live format, Beychok started hot with a string of four winners. He left all of his default picks in until the last two races, when he changed things up to account for players lower down in the standings who might play longer prices to try to catch up with him. It’s a good thing he did because he ended up on the 9-2 winner in the anchor leg. “I blocked the guy in second,” Beychok said, “and I also managed to hit the pick five at Santa Anita.”

On the same set of races, Beychok also won a credit-builder contest that will help him fund his DRF Tournaments play. It’s just another example of the power of multitabling – playing in more than one contest at once. If you’ve done the work, why not get the extra reward when you have a good day?

Beychok took maybe an hour to go over the 12-race sequence, less time than many of his fellow contest players would devote. “Sometimes that’s how I do it,” he said. “I’ve learned from experience that I do better either doing it that way or taking days and weeks to prepare for a contest like the NHC than if I try something in the middle. My first instinct is usually better than my first instinct-plus.”

Players interested in joining Beychok for the Saratoga contests have to look no further than the Wednesday feeders on DRF Tournaments. For only $12, you can play in a feeder for this Saturday’s qualifier. The top 10 percent of entries will advance.

Also on Wednesday, DRF Tournaments is hosting feeders for Saturday’s BCBC qualifier and for the July 24 NHC qualifier. There will be credit-builder contests as well. Check tournaments.drf.com for more information and a list of the races that will be used for Wednesday’s contests.