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Breeders Cup 2015
Kentucky Derby 2017

HRN Represented (almost) Very Well in Chicago!

Today I had the pleasure of participating in a weekly promotion at Hawthorne Race Course called “Jim vs.”  This is a contest where a guest handicapper makes selections against Jim Miller, Asst. General Manager and the does-everything-guy at Hawthorne.  The day includes co-hosting the preview of the race card on the closed-circuit TV feed, and lunch in the Gold Cup room.  However I was afforded an opportunity to preview the races with Jim in the paddock before each race.  This was an amazing day and I’m very grateful that I was able to take a day off of work join Jim for a day at the races.  Let’s see how I did…

The first task of the day was to preview the entire race day card on the small screen.  The open mini-studio is located centrally in the enclosed grandstand level at the track.  The TV camera was situated right in front of a tall table with tall chairs.  Behind the chairs was a Hawthorne backdrop and above the backdrop were TV’s simulcasting feeds from across the country.  There were tables and a few spectators (Chicago legend Tom Dubrick, Mona and Geno Petro, and my love wife Ramey among others) facing the table straight on.  I got wired up for sound and was ready to go.  Or so I thought.  Jim kicked off the action by introducing the events of the day and turned to me to give a little background on myself.  And that’s when I….FROZE.

“I write for Horse….”

And Jim had to finish my sentence for me!  Brian Zipse would have been very disappointed!  (Don’t worry all, I redeemed “the Nation” later.)  I completely blame Eric Slora though as he told me earlier in the day to remember to put a plug in for horseplayernow.com and that got stuck in my head.  (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

Once I thawed out, the rest of the TV experience went much better.  Jim and I gave our top three selections for each race and gave the reasons for our picks.  I had no idea how I performed on TV but the texts and Facebook posts were fairly positive.  

And now for the contest.  

Jim and I make a mythical $2 WPS wager on our top choice of the three picks we make each race.  We tally up the totals and whoever has the most winnings at the end of the day is the victor.  I spent the entire last three days analyzing and re-analyzing my picks, constantly making changes and adjustments as I try to factor in the expected track conditions, knowing there have only been three others to defeat Jim in the contest in the past.  Jim did VERY well in his picks yesterday so I was a bit concerned.    My concern was amplified when in the first race my top choice finished dead last.  So I flub up the pre-race day show and now the first race was a disaster.  Is this how the entire day was going to be?  

I have to admit that things got way better in a hurry because Jim actually afforded me the opportunity to give a preview in the paddock with him each race!  How cool is that?!  At that point I finally felt a little more comfortable in front of the camera even though I was getting beat bad in the contest.  The contest was not over though as I was able to slowly chip away at Jim’s lead each race.  

Race by race and little by little I was able to reduce the substantial lead that Jim had over me.  Finally the 8th race came.  This was a $7,500 maiden claiming lottery where anything could have happened.  I chose a horse named “Better Safe” and was lucky to get 7-1 odds on her.  Jim chose a horse called “Hello Hannah” because Hannah is his daughter’s name.  Well, I got lucky as my horse finished second and Jim’s finished fourth.  The decent place and show payoffs were enough to finally catapult me into the lead to stay (as Jim and I both had chalky selections in the 9th and final race).  I can’t believe that I pulled this off especially after the start I had!  To the victor go the spoils and the prizes did not disappoint.  10,000 Club Hawthorne bonus points and the title “Greatest Handicapper Alive” (according to their web site) are now mine!

All in all even though it was a rainy and windy day in Chicago with a muddy track at Hawthorne, I couldn’t have had a better experience.  I can’t thank Jim Miller enough for affording me this once in a lifetime opportunity and I am certainly looking forward to the rematch!  

Also, let’s not forget the great racing Hawthorne has planned for this Saturday!  The Illinois Festival of Racing features six stakes races featuring the best that Illinois racing has to offer.  The races are:

Race 4 - $125,000 Illini Princess Handicap – 1 1/16 miles on the dirt track for fillies and mares 3 years old and upward featuring Dundalk Dust and Peyote Patty.

Race 5 - $125,000 Sun Power Stakes – 6 furlongs on the dirt track for colts and geldings 2 years old.

Race 6 - $125,000 Showtime Deb Stakes - 6 furlongs on the dirt track for fillies and mares 2 years old.

Race 8 - $125,000 Powerless Handicap - 6 furlongs on the dirt track for fillies and mares 3 years old and upward featuring Third Chance and Wild Hope.

Race 9 - $125,000 Lightning Jet Handicap - 6 furlongs on the dirt track for colts and geldings 3 years old and upward featuring Shrewd Operator and River Bear.

Race 10 - $125,000 Buck’s Boy Handicap - 1 1/16 miles on the dirt track for colts and geldings 3 years old and upward featuring Denham and Racing Bran.


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Older Comments about HRN Represented (almost) Very Well in Chicago!...

Thanks so much!! I'm nowhere to the level of a Brian Zipse or Jim Miller yet by any means, but who knows maybe this will springboard into a new career!
Watch out TVG and HRTV, a new broadcast media talent is emerging on the scene. Really nice work, Chris! Thanks for carry the flag of the "Nation" throughout!
You did great! I was taking notes.
The bigger they are the harder they fall!
Wow, nice job Chris, that's awesome! I think it's safe to say the HRN community is proud of how you represent us!
Proud of you, you did a great job! Me and the Zipper watched you from beautiful Keeneland Race Track.. We're big fans of "The Co-Host"
Couldn't believe after the first race my horse finished dead last... I was so worried about finishing the day with $0!
You represented youself well...congrats on the win!
Seriously, great job, and great story, my man!
Ha! Where is the Horseplayer NOW love??!! :)
Great job, Chris! I tried to get some $$$ down on you @ 2/1, but there were no takers...
Winner, winner, chicken dinner ... despite the hummina, hummina, hummina, you represented The Nation with flying colors ... well done Co-Host!

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