If you aren’t part of the tournament circuit, you probably still heard about this weekend’s most talked about horse racing controversy. Maybe you caught wind of it on social media. Maybe you sat next to someone at a bar who was a victim of it. Or maybe you saw the reference to it via Buzzfeed’s Snapchat account. Of course I am talking about Fourgate.
For those of you who still haven’t been brought up to speed on the greatest tragedy to hit horse racing since the death of Battle of Midway, allow me to bring you the news. In Saturday’s free NHC qualifier on HorsePlayers.com, seven entrants picked the #4 horse in all 12 races. Because of some big price winners who ran under the bright yellow saddle towel with the black #4 stitched on, all seven contestants shared the highest score of the day. Five of them, thanks to tie breaking procedures, will eventually be on their way to Las Vegas for the 2020 National Horseplayers Championship after there NTRA conducts some sort of random selection from the seven winners.
Now, I don’t have to tell you that this issue has not sat well with some. And we’ll get to why that is shortly. But for now, let’s take a look at all 12 #4s and see what kind of case could have been made for each of them, resulting in the seven names you see above opting to make those horses their top selections in the tourney.
Gulfstream Race 8- My Gal Betty
Grade 1 placed in this field of unproven turf girls. She was within about two seconds on Newspaperofrecord in the BC. Who else in here could say that? 6-1 on the ML. Not hard to make a case.
Tampa Race 6- Dalarna
Not hard to have. I picked her myself. Enough said. Let’s move on.
Aqueduct Race 6- Thinkingofglenn
Showed speed on debut and then shaved two seconds of the typical 4F work time out of the gate in the subsequent work. And who else in here was there to be afraid of? No one. Clocker Bruno DeJulio had this guy on top. On. Fucking. Top!!!
Tampa Race 7- Highland Park Hero
Again, I also had this one. Not creative. Next!!!
Gulfstream Race 10- Identifier
Navarro. Jaramillo. Toss the slop flop. How did this one pay $11?
Tampa Race 8- Summer Blossom
Closed well in the last start after trying and failing to win on the lead the race before that. Certainly a top contender.
Gulfstream Race 11- La Signare
Was favored against some of these same foes last time. And the price figured to be right with the big Euro invader down on the inside.
Gulfstream Race 12- Jeltrin
Had been running an awful lot like a horse that needed Saturday’s added ground. The last-out Beyer was higher than most of the rest of the field. Closed well in the Forward Gal not too terribly far behind my top pick Champagne Anyone, who was a fraction of the price. And if you weren’t buying all the “free square” nonsense we heard all week about Jaywalk, I have seen worse bombers than Jeltrin as tourney picks.
I am a man with a bit of an attention span issue, and to be honest I have sort of lost interest in pretending that the seven winners of the Horseplayers contest actually handicapped the races and landed on the #4 all 12 times because of their merits. We all know that didn’t happen. But who cares? We all know how this game works. And I think people are pissed because they don’t want to admit that at times, a small child who can’t even read is capable of beating us in one of these contest. It’s the nature of this sport. And on Saturday, the randomness of Planet Earth worked in favor of the Fourgate Seven. I just wish these people entered every contest in which I participated. Because I’d beat them probably seven times out of 10. Maybe eight. But on Saturday, in the contest that mattered, randomness was in their favor. And in the 2020 NHC, guess what? The odds might be in their favor again. Wouldn’t that be something?
There is no problem with tournaments. There is no need to eliminate the free ones. Yes, this hurts. But move on. Props to the Fourgate Seven.