Neal Benoit – Website Founder
For me, it all began in earnest in 1977, when I was 17 years old. I had personally seen Affirmed and Alydar race as 2-year olds at Saratoga. And although I’m not in the habit of saving much memorabilia, I still have the program from that day. I had no idea at the time these two horses would eventually seal my fate as a lifelong fan of Thoroughbred horse racing. In case you don’t know their story, I have an article with more details, including the video of their historic run down the stretch in the 1978 Belmont Stakes. Click here to read the full story of Affirmed vs. Alydar, an epic rivalry.
I grew up in the Saratoga region, and I still reside there today. I admit that I’m spoiled by having one of the greatest horse racing venues in my backyard. To say I love Saratoga is an understatement. I have given my family strict instructions to spread my ashes around the racetrack after I die.
Around 1990 (age of 30), I expanded my horse racing world by making regular trips to Belmont and Kentucky. In 1991 my wife and I went to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby. That was a magical week for me. We visited several horse farms, went to the track four days in a row, and witnessed Strike The Gold win the Derby. Also, during our visits to the Breeding Farms, I was able to see some personal favorites like Seattle Slew, Slew O’ Gold, Cryptoclearance, and Chiefs Crown.
Presently I make several trips a year to Kentucky, New Jersey, and Florida. My favorite destinations are Keeneland and Gulfstream Park, but I also enjoy visiting Churchill Downs, Monmouth Park, and Kentucky Downs. You can rest assured that I’ll have plenty to write about these adventures in many articles to come. And I’ll share with you some “need to know” information if/when you decide to broaden your horse racing world. Of course I’ll also be covering my home base, Saratoga, in detail during the racing season here in the Northeast.
You’re probably wondering, is Neal a professional gambler? The answer is no. In fact, I don’t really consider myself a true “gambler.” I don’t go to casinos, I’ve never bought a lottery ticket, and I’m not very fond of losing money. I’m a fan of horse racing and I’m a horseplayer. I see each race as a riddle. And for me, the thrill is in solving it.
With that said, I can hold my own against some of the top handicappers. In April (2013) I finished in the top 10 of a National Handicapping contest on Xpressbet.com. I qualified for a free buy-in (worth $500) into this tournament by finishing in the top 30 of a prior tournament, where I was 23rd out of 868 entrants. Click here to read more about my tournament experience.
For me, there is so much more about being a fan of this sport than the wagering opportunities. A byproduct of being a horseplayer is the opportunity to witness majestic animals and amazing people putting on one of the greatest shows on earth. I have the utmost respect for the hard working people involved in the daily grind of this business. Their hard work enables people like me to thoroughly enjoy my time spent at the racetrack.
So, why did I create this website? I guess I’m a teacher at heart. On subjects other than horse racing, I’ve taught high school students, college students, and adult continuing-education students. In the realm of horse racing, I’ve given lectures and seminars geared specifically toward attracting and educating new fans to the sport. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me, “I’d sure like to go to the track with you.” Well, here’s your chance. If you follow along with me on this newest adventure, maybe we’ll have some fun and learn a few things along the way.
I hope you enjoy your time spent with me.