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Survival Tips

Any veteran of a Chicago winter will tell you that the keys to surviving the harshness of the season are numerous and varied. If you are a grownup, they may include a sturdy shovel, Four-wheel drive, snow boots, a case of hot chocolate, and a healthy memory of how wonderful the summers can be, in the very same city.

If one wishes to survive Hawthorne’s Survivor Contest II, sponsored by, the challenges will also be daunting. But aside from perhaps banging your head against a wall, your health and well-being will largely be unaffected.

You don’t need to leave your driveway or bundle-up to play, and the only thing that could affect your participation is a blizzard that knocks our your Internet service. But even then, how likely is it that we race that day?

You see, you have no reason not to play a free contest in which the “last man standing” wins $2500. But after witnessing the carnage that was the first Survivor Contest, you best own a “Survival Kit” if you expect to thrive during the next few weeks of racing.

If you are reading this on Saturday, November 15, you are already one day into the tournament, and I’ll assume (silly me) that you’ve made it through Friday.

Consider the following a sample kit of how to endure:

  • Find short fields-I mean why look for trouble? It’s hard enough finding horses to finish in the money in big fields, let alone the small ones. Less traffic usually equals a better trip.
  • Wait for the scratches-I know time is a factor for those of you goofy enough to actually work for a living. But in this game, you scratch into the post time favorite and I’ve seen some ugly post time favorites. There’s nothing worse than losing with someone elses’ pick.
  • Don’t over think-At least in the early parts of the contest, don’t try and be a hero and pick that “trouble-trip” horse that your “expert” handicapping skills has honed in on. You might be right, but be sure it is the most likely horse of the day to finish in the money.
  • Know the rules-One example is understanding that you don’t get both parts of an entry. So if you play the #1 and only the 1a hits the board, well, you’ll be eliminated…and very angry.
  • Have a number two pencil-Never mind; I had a nasty flashback of an entrance exam. Sorry.
  • Remember the goal-There are no tiebreakers in this contest, so picking the most winners will only help your ego, not your chances of winning. Find consistent horses that regularly complete the trifecta, and for goodness sake, drink plenty of fluids.
  • Don’t get shut out-Unfortunately for those of you who live a time-free existence, this may not be the contest for you. You must enter a selection every day, no later than 30 minutes prior to the first post. You obviously took the time to register, so play as if you have a chance to win…It is entirely possible you will!

An extended survival package might include a track program or the Racing Form to make your daily selections more information-based. And it sure wouldn’t hurt to have a basic working knowledge of the jockeys and trainers thrown into the deluxe kit.

But more than anything, it will take a great deal of good fortune and a little crazy luck to get you through the Survivor Contest and the winter months ahead. Oh, and did I mention a sturdy shovel?

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