06/14/2017 7:46AM

Zaretsky enjoys being armchair handicapper


Dan Zaretsky was a tournament rookie in 2016. This year, he’s stamped himself as a major player for the World Championship of Handicapping by winning his $5,000 buy-in for the event via the DRF Tournaments Grade 1 qualifier on Belmont Day.

“I love playing the big days like Belmont Stakes Day because you tend to get better payoffs due to larger crowds, pools, and fields,” said the 54-year-old high-tech consultant. “My two main winners were great examples of the better payoffs.”

Zaretsky had Ascend ($57.60 win-place combined) in the Manhattan Stakes and Manitoulin ($49.60) in Belmont’s 12th race, both because of what he perceived as overlaid mutuels.

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This wasn’t the first time he’d scored on Belmont Day. “One of my biggest wins ever was the pick four culminating with Drosselmeyer winning the Belmont Stakes,” he said. “Racing has really turned these big-race days into great events. Whereas some people don’t care whether the race is a Grade 3 or a $12,500 claimer, I appreciate the better-quality racing on many levels.”

He’s also a fan of New York racing in general. “I have noticed over the past five years that New York racing gets better and better,” he said.

Zaretsky has loved horse racing since 1970s, when his parents used to take him to the Santa Anita racetrack infield. Nearly two years ago, he discovered contest play through DRF.com. “It was the perfect venue for me because I don’t have a lot of free time to go and spend the days in the infield anymore, though I wish I did,” he said. “I can have a great challenge that is focused, time-bound, and provides a good value.”

Speaking of good value, Zaretsky is one of the first 11 players to qualify for the new $1 million, no-takeout WCH. The other qualifiers: Rick Broth, William Casper, Eliot Honaker, Eric Moomey, Steven Meier, Rich Nilsen, Jerald Seagall, Edwin Spaunhurst, Leo Vukmanovich, and David Watts.

“The new format for the $1 million championship is intriguing to me since I have tended to do better in mythical vs. live-bankroll contests,” he said. “The live-bankroll contests require a different mind-set.

“I also like the idea of competing from the comfort of my own home. I feel it might give me a bit of a home-court advantage, or at least I hope it will. The trip to Vegas or the track for onsite contests can be an additional distraction for me. I’m looking forward to see if this online venue will help me.”

Qualification for the WCH continues every day that DRF Tournaments is active, with $95 first-round contests that feed the next Grade 1 qualifier on July 8, in conjunction with Belmont’s Stars and Stripes festival. One in 10 entries from the Grade 1 will advance to the WCH.

For more information and a list of contests, go to tournaments.drf.com.