By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport
SCENE & HEARD: It’s that time of year again when things get edgy in the Jack Short Media Lounge high above track level at Hastings Racecourse.
Normally the found-ins seem to be a happy little group that takes great delight in exchanging good-natured (we think) insults. Three of the regulars – Randy Goulding, Drew Forster and Mike Heads – pride themselves on being recognized as the elite headline handicappers on race days.
Goulding is the industrious Pacific Northwest correspondent for the widely read Daily Racing Form. Forster and Heads have their selections appear each week in The Derby Bar and Grill Newsletter.
Several years ago, long-time Vancouver Sun photographer Ralph Bower created what is known as the Handicappers Press Box Challenge. He keeps a weekly running record of which of the three analysts has picked the most first-place finishers on each card during the 52 days of racing.
At the conclusion of the season the eventual winner is awarded with the prestigious Railbird Plaque that hangs in full view in the press room for the ensuing 12 months.
To illustrate how competitive things get, Goulding won it last year; Heads the year before; Goulding and Forster finished in a deadheat in 2015.
Not surprisingly, Bower’s latest statistics heading into the final 10 days of this 2018 season show signs of a potential photo finish. Goulding leads with 88 correct first-place picks; Forster has 86 and Heads is by no means out of the running with 81.
Heads, by the way, has the longest price among winners when he chose Gold Girl to win Race 6 on June 2. Golden Girl paid $17.70 and that’s significant because if there is a tie for the overall lead in the Handicappers Press Box Challenge at season’s end, the selector with the longest price is named champion.