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Breeders' Cup 2017
HRN Original Blog:
Handicapper's Corner

Thanks, Tom

Tom Durkin 615 X 400
Photo: NYRA


When you ask people what their greatest fears are, more times than not, public speaking will be mentioned. It takes a special person to convey what is going on to millions of people on live television or radio, and to keep the audience captivated enough to keep them coming back. It’s the passion for their sports, not their knowledge of the game, or oratory skills, that make Vin Scully, Al Michaels, Howard Cosell … and Tom Durkin some of the greatest to ever sit behind the microphone. Sadly, Durkin will turn the microphone off on a historic career that spanned the last 5 decades following Saratoga's Sunday program.


The sport of horse racing is one of the greatest passions of my life, thanks to my father introducing me to the sport at an early age (like many). A big part of that passion was built on the great race calls of Tom Durkin day in and day out. Everyone has their favorite race callers, but for me, Durkin is unequivocally at the top of the heap. He quickly lets a bettor know if their charge will be a contender today or not, and uncannily sets the mood of the fans during a big race, good or bad. He may never have had the pleasure of calling a Triple Crown winner, but his fantastic calls encapsulated what we were all feeling during the close calls.


I was in the stands at Belmont Park in 1990 when Go For Wand was fatally injured in the stretch drive of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, when Tiznow “won it for America” in 2001 and when it was “a filly in the Belmont” (Rags to Riches) in 2007. I wasn’t there because I bought tickets to those events. I was there because Durkin took me there. His passion for the sport and its athletes came through. Though he had a bird's-eye view, he could have just as well been on the apron amongst the $2 bettor, because you can tell he loves and respects the athletes that create these dramatic scenes for us.




Even though I’ve watched the 2009 Woodward Stakes roughly 50 times, I watched again this morning. Goosebumps popped up and butterflies fluttered in my stomach, as Durkin set the scene for his, and Rachel Alexandra’s finest hour.




Tom Durkin, thank you for creating so many memories that my father and I still talk about to this day, just as a father and son would discuss a Dodgers game Vin Scully called from years back. Your passion not only captivated me, but somehow instilled itself within, and will be something I will never relinquish. 


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Meet Jasen Mangrum

My interest in the Sport of Kings goes back over 25 years with my father taking me with his friends to the old Ak-Sar-Ben Race Course in Omaha, NE.  From those early experiences I was able to read the Daily Racing Form before the age of 10.  Once The Woodlands opened in Kansas City in 1988, I became totally hooked on the sport studying racing charts after homework and tennis practice.  In recent years, with the explosion of handicapping tournaments, my love for handicapping the races has risen to a new level.  Primarily focused on New York, Chicago and Louisiana racing, I have now been forced to study races far and wide in attempt to find “cap horses” in the tournaments I play.  I have also dabbled in horse ownership within syndicates and on my own.


My fondest memories in racing include Silver Charm’s 1997 Kentucky Derby victory.  Both my father and I selected him, which made for a memorable day.  The best race I’ve seen was Tiznow’s first Breeders Cup Classic win in 2000 when he outdueled Giant’s Causeway down the length of the Churchill Downs stretch.   My biggest windfall as a gambler was a pool-scooping pick-4 win, paying over $6,600 at The Woodlands in 2005.


The point of this blog is to get everyone out there a few winners, but also to go in depth at how I come to the conclusions that I do.  From week to week, I’ll explain angles I think are important to locate winners.  I encourage others to post picks they like too, but please explain how you come to your conclusions.  That way everyone can learn a little more about this great game, and add another weapon to their handicapping arsenal.-Best of luck, Jasen Mangrum

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