“That person I owe inexpressible gratitude to is you, the racing fan, the horseplayer. Thank you for it all. Thank you for everything.” – Tom Durkin
This week’s Saratoga Saturdays contest happened to coincide with Tom Durkin’s final weekend of calling races at Saratoga Race Course, as he announced his retirement effective August 31.
It is the end of an era.
Tom Durkin called so many memorable races that it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few highlights. But for me, he made Rachel Alexandra’s romp in the 2009 Kentucky Oaks more electrifying; he made Cigar’s undefeated season in 1995 more impressive; and he made Smarty Jones’ loss in the 2004 Belmont Stakes more heartbreaking. He brought emotional significance to the big races, punctuating them with his signature style. When I visualize some of the classic races over the years, I can hear his voice painting the picture in the background. Thanks for the memories!
As for the final contest week, there are two sets of winners to congratulate. Ron White won the Week 5 high score with 1,484 points out of a maximum 3,554 available. There were two 25-1 winners on the card, and nobody was able to find both of them. But if you found one of them you were ahead of the pack in terms of a high finish as they were worth 827 and 797 points, respectively. That’s the stuff that winning contest scores are made of.
Congratulations to Jack Vesovich for winning the top prize in the overall contest with a score of 3,991 points! By averaging nearly 1,000 points per week, Mr. Vesovich earned his way into the Dog Days contest to be held on September 13-14. Congratulations also to Kalib Martin for his second place finish in the overall points with a 3,801 total. Kalib earned his way into the Ultimate NHC Qualifier to be held on September 12. Excellent scoring by these two players!
Don’t worry, if you came up short in the Saratoga Saturday’s contest you won’t have to wait long for redemption. The FREE Countdown to the Cup handicapping contest starts September 20 and runs each Saturday until Breeders’ Cup at selected tracks.
Good luck and don’t get shut out!