07/07/2016 12:10PM

For Draper, teatime is winning time


Douglas Draper, a 66-year-old bankruptcy attorney, was one of the best stories at the 2016 National Handicapping Championship. Just a month after losing his father, a fellow contest player, he made a deep run at one of the two premier contests in the world.

Draper already has punched his ticket for the 2017 NHC. Last weekend, he successfully turned his attention to the jewel in the handicapping-contest-world crown, winning his $10,000 entry in the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge via DRF Tournaments.

Draper’s wife’s birthday is June 30, and every year they take a trip to celebrate. “We call it ‘Lesliepalooza,’ ” he said, adding that this year’s trip was from New Orleans to Houston. “I had promised her I would take her to tea at the St. Regis on the day of the contest.”

The BCQualify event used the live format, meaning picks could be changed until post time of each contest race, but Draper approached it as if it were an all-in event, where all picks must be in before post time of the first contest race. Usually, that would be a significant disadvantage, but it worked out beautifully.

“This is a husband truly being rewarded for celebrating his wife’s birthday,” he said. “I didn’t even look at the contest during the tea. If I had, I’d be on the phone with a lawyer now instead of a reporter. Then afterwards, I saw I was up $20 with two races to go. I decided not to miss with my two further selections.”

One of the key selections was Doctor J Dub, a cap horse in Gulfstream’s 11th race. “A new trainer had taken over from Maria Borell,” he said, “and I’ve been following what is clearly an awful story with her. I had bet on this horse before, and I figured he was getting better care from his new trainer.”

This approach is typical for Draper in contests. “With contest handicapping, you have to take things into account that are outside the PPs,” he said. “You’re looking for anomalies.”

This contrasts with the typical approach he applies in betting pick fours with friends at the Covington, La., offtrack betting facility. “With the pick four, you’re looking to cash a ticket,” he said. “You’re willing to take a lower-priced horse as a single in the hopes that you can spread elsewhere. In the contest environment, you really have to make hard decisions in those spread-type races.”

Draper has attended the Breeders’ Cup several times but has yet to play in the BCBC. He is relishing the opportunity. “I try to get into all the big tournaments,” he said, adding that he’d like to compete in the Santa Anita Autumn Championship, potentially earning a chance for a $1 million bonus at the BCBC. But the BCBC, with its $1 million expected purse, holds plenty of allure on its own.

“It’s a great event, and to be able to go there and compete with first-class treatment, it’s just wonderful,” he said.

He made a good run at the Monmouth Pick Your Prize contest and has been working on his live-bankroll chops. “I was in contention until the end, but I’ve never had the big hit you need to win these things,” he said. “I recognize that one thing you can’t be afraid to do is go all in.”

Qualifying for the BCBC makes it easier for Draper and others to bet their bankrolls aggressively at the big event. “If I put up the $10,000, I might have to think twice about betting the whole thing on Day 2,” he said. “But having won my buy-in, it’s Monopoly money.”

Saturday contests

The main event on DRF Tournaments on Saturday is a qualifier for the Santa Anita Autumn Championship. The buy-in is $235, and one $5,000 package will be awarded for every 35 entries. Packages include the $4,500 entry fee and bankroll plus $500 for travel. The contest uses the live format.

Also on Saturday, you’ll find low-buy-in feeders for the NHCQualify and BCQualify events that DRF Tournaments will be hosting Sunday. The top 10 percent of entrants will advance to Sunday.

Lastly, there will be at least two low-buy-in credit-builder contests. There is no better way for a new player to get involved and fund his contest play. Check out DRF Tournaments for details, including a list of the races for Saturday’s events.