The Champ- Second to None
By Dustin Haluska
It’s no secret that TTE co-founder Michael Beychok won a million dollars.
However, if you spent time around him at a race track, “Millionaire” would be one of the last words used to describe him.
Last week at Saratoga, I had the opportunity to meet Michael for the first time in the grandstand at Saratoga while morning workouts were taking place.
He was fresh off a second-place finish at Day One of the Battle of Saratoga Tournament, which earned him a return trip to the same NHC contest he won seven digits at in 2012. Michael talked passionately about how special it was to do well at the Battle of Saratoga and how much it meant to him.
I got the feeling right away that contest success isn’t all about holding a large check with an obscene amount of money written on it for Michael Beychok. It’s more about the competition, history and excitement of accomplishing goals based on your own hard work.
“These are the creme of the crop handicappers on the East coast, and there are even some West coast handicappers here,” said Beychok, who pointed out the likes of former big contest winners on hand at Saratoga such as Christian Hellmers, John Conte, Jonathon Kinchen, Paul Shurman, Paul Matties Jr. and Brent Sumja.
“I thrive on competition; I prepare for this tournament a lot like I prepare for the NHC. I put in weeks of work on track models and watching replays.”
Not in as many words, but I did remind Michael that the Battle of Saratoga isn’t the NHC. He countered by talking about challenges which helped me better understand where he was coming from. Unlike the NHC, which rolls under the mythical $2 win-place format, the Battle of Saratoga is a “live money” tournament. A format that Michael admitted has not been one of his strengths in the past.
“This is the first live money tournament that I’ve ever monied in,” said Beychok, who hit the money in his two previous efforts in the Battle of Saratoga. “I made a leap forward playing live money. The challenge has been that it is money. I know I won a million dollars, but I am not a gambler. I am a $2 exacta, $1 trifecta kind of guy, and I don’t play $100 exactas.”
Michael was able to play some “small ball” as he connected on a four-horse, $4 exacta box in a maiden race at Saratoga that returned just under $1,200 and provided the former NHC champ with some bullets in his holster. The exacta keyed by 26-1 longshot Ransom Drop on top elevated Beychok to fourth place in the tournament.
His next big wager (several hundred dollars) came a few races later on 7-1 Second City, who rallied up the rail but finished a hard-knocking second. Suddenly, Michael fell out of the top 10 into 14th and found himself in a much-win situation heading into the final race of the day at Saratoga.
With his back against the wall, Michael once again went out of his normal betting elements by firing a $950 win bet on 7-2 maiden claiming firster Kid Friendly and backed it up with a $200 exacta that placed his top pick second behind the 10.
Kid Friendly got the job done for Michael and returned $4,370 which was an amount that still didn’t give him the feeling that it would be enough.
“I knew I wouldn’t win the contest if it came in 10-7, but I didn’t want to run second again and come away with no money,” Beychok explained.
“I really didn’t think 7-2 was going to be enough to get me into second place.”
A second place finish that Michael treasures just as much as many of the top finishes he has accomplished.
“I really would like to win it, but it was as good as winning without winning it because I got a seat to the NHC which is precious to me,” Beychok said.
“You are beating the best players at the best meet in the country. That’s what makes it special and a major tournament.”
Michael Beychok proved to be special to me as well because it’s a reminder that money and success shouldn’t change the passion and work you put into accomplishing it.
Need more proof?
Go no further than TheTournamentEdge.net where Michael and others have made an investment into educating fellow tournament players on a daily basis.