By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport
SCENE & HEARD: As this 2017 thoroughbred racing season winds down, the competitive juices of our infamous three Hastings Handicappers begin to hit uncontrollable levels.
Not that they require further introductions but for the record, we’re talking about Randy Goulding of the Daily Racing Form and the two Derby Bar and Grill racing prophets Drew Forster and Mike Heads.
Each year they engage in a heated exercise of trying to outdo each other by picking the most winners over Hastings’ 52-card racing season.
Ralph (Railbird) Bower presides over the competition with the eventual winner being toasted in the Jack Short Media Lounge on closing day, which this year is Sunday, Oct. 22. A special ‘Railbird Plaque’ is produced and delivered by Mr. Bower, where it hangs for viewing in the press room over the ensuing 12 months.
Goulding and Forster have their picks published on page 2 of the Hastings live racing program every race day while the selections from Heads appear in the Derby Bar and Grill newsletter prior to race days.
Egos and bragging rights are at stake here. If one of the handicappers happens to get skunked on a particular day he quickly hears about it from the other two. Or conversely, if one of them gets hot and picks three or four winners on a single race card he doesn’t hesitate to ram it down the throats of his competitors.
Heads is the defending champion, having nailed 130 first-place picks during the 2016 season. Forster wasn’t far behind with 127 and Goulding crossed the finish line with 122.
“But if you look back over the years,” Goulding, the senior citizen, says, “it becomes obvious that I am the most consistent.” (Editor’s note: Humility has never been one of Goulding’s trademarks).
After 44 race dates this year, the standings heading into this weekend looked like this: Goulding 112, Forster 104 and Heads 95. “With roughly 56 races left to predict,” a confident Forster says, “I have no doubt I can catch the old guy.”
Heads, for a rare time in his life, declined comment.