My kids are ages almost-7 and 5 1/2. On Friday, they begin first grade and kindergarten. And I won’t be there. Why? Well, because someone here in Seminole County, Florida decided to schedule the first day of school on a Friday, and that Friday happens to be the first of two Saratoga handicapping contests this weekend. And while I really hate to miss the first day of school, I’d hate to miss out on time with friends and fellow contest players, two of whom are part of team LoneSpeed- Craig Spencer and multi-time NHC qualifier Steve DeCaspers.
Let’s start with the whole school thing. My kids won’t miss me and it’s highly improbable that they’ll remember I missed this day a week from now. That’s how kids are. Sometimes. My kids still throw stuff in my face from two years ago. But this doesn’t seem like one of those things.
I have never been to Saratoga. And another buddy, eleventy billion-time NHC qualifier Rich Nilsen, qualified for both contests along with Craig and Steve. So of the four of us, I am the only one who had to buy his way in. But it’s the price I had to pay to hang with buddies in what is sure to be an awesome atmosphere.
Friday’s format is pretty simple. $1000 entry fee. $500 is returned to you as your bankroll. You have to bet at least $100 on at least five different races. You can bet more if you want but you must meet the minimum requirements. Saratoga races only. Win, Place, Show, Exacta, Quinella, Trifecta, and Double wagering only. Whoever wins the most money wins the contest. Prizes include cash, NHC seats, and a spot in next year’s Belmont Stakes Challenge.
The Saturday format is the same, just double the entry fee and bankroll amounts.
Personally, I love the live money format. While I am still a relative newcomer to the tourney scene, I’ve performed well in a few of them. And to be honest I am due for a good showing. Should be a fun weekend.
Hopefully my kids don’t remember I chose Saratoga over their first day of school.