Younger play­ers mak­ing mark

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - Daily Racing Form - FORNATALE

The youth move­ment in horse­player con­tests is in full ef­fect. For ev­i­dence, check out 22-year-old Grant LaGrange of New Or­leans. On his re­cent trip to Saratoga for La­bor Day week­end, LaGrange fin­ished best in a field of nearly 300 en­tries in one of Saratoga’s low-roller con­tests, par­lay­ing his $40 buy-in into more than $2,300.

“Get­ting taken down in a dou­ble DQ one day, then turn­ing around the next day and hav­ing my strong­est opin­ion win at 13-1 by a nose on con­test day was a pretty good swing of rac­ing luck,” said LaGrange, who has worked in the rac­ing of­fice at Fair Grounds and wants to con­tinue to work in the rac­ing in­dus­try.

LaGrange has been a rac­ing fan since he was 13, brought into the game by his grand­fa­ther.

“He had al­ways been a big rac­ing fan and used to bring me, my brother, and my cousin to the track with him,” LaGrange said. “Back in 2014, we hit a pick six to­gether at Del Mar that paid over $100,000.”

When it comes to his process, he starts by hand­i­cap­ping the races as a whole, as op­posed to just the bet­ting in­ter­ests in each race.

“I al­ways start the same way: I cat­e­go­rize a race as a ‘ran­dom’ or a ‘non-ran­dom,’ ” he said. “Once I’ve done that, I start look­ing at the numbers and mak­ing my de­ci­sion on how many con­tenders I am will­ing to use and the prices I’ll ac­cept on each horse.”

He’s a Daily Rac­ing Form fan, but he looks at other sources, too, in the end mak­ing his own numbers.

“I use a few dif­fer­ent things, in­clud­ing the Sheets and a ve­loc­ity pro­gram that crunches numbers for me,” he said.

Con­tests have al­ways held a spe­cial ap­peal.

“I got in­ter­ested in the high­roller life shown on the show ‘Horse­play­ers,’ ” he said, “and I found out more about con­tests just read­ing about them in ar­ti­cles in DRF.”

He’s played a lot on­line over the last three years in smaller stakes and is look­ing to take his game to the next level, slowly but surely. The Saratoga hit rep­re­sents an im­por­tant step in that di­rec­tion. LaGrange also ex­pressed in­ter­est in the World Horse­play­ers’ Tour, though he was un­suc­cess­ful in his at­tempts to qual­ify for the first WHT event.

“Show­ing the world how great bet­ting horses can be on TV could bring in a whole new uni­verse of fans – es­pe­cially fans my age,” he said.

While he cer­tainly sees the im­por­tance of bring­ing in new fans, when he looks at rac­ing’s fu­ture he doesn’t see doom and gloom. He de­scribes the “rac­ing is dy­ing” nar­ra­tive as “get­ting old” and dis­putes its va­lid­ity.

“I think that if you put in the time, you can make money – good money – play­ing this game,” he said.

“Then you add on top of that the ca­ma­raderie that comes along with go­ing to the track with friends and play­ing cash or play­ing con­tests, and I think there’s a case to be made that rac­ing will get stronger and stronger as more and more peo­ple re­al­ize what it’s re­ally all about. It’s a big party where you can make money, that’s the way I see it.”

Look for Grant LaGrange’s name soon on top of a leader­board near you.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.