What's Mightier? Pen Or Micro-Chip?

Tioga Downs announced this past March that it was offering decreased takeout on all bets for its meet, which opens Saturday, May 1. To show support for the track, which has been listening to its customers, the Horseplayers Association of North America would like to announce the

'Pen and Micro-Chip Challenge.'

Each raceday, picks for Tioga will be given out from four handicappers. Two are computer programs, or data crunchers, and two will be from talented 'pen and paper' handicappers. At the end of the series, HANA will tabulate the results and declare a winner. A donation, supplied by HANA and Mike at paceadvantage.com, will be made to the standardbred adoption society of the winner's choice.

The protagonists for the challenge:

In the micro-chip division we have Ray. Ray is a 67-year-old retired chemist and self-taught computer programmer, living in Clarion, Pennsylvania. His interest in standardbreds began in the '70s leading to part ownership of some trotters racing at the Meadows in the '80s. He laughingly claims to hold a perfect attendance award at the track from 1985-1991. Ray's home-grown handicapping program has shown positive ROI for several years, and he was recently featured in Trot Magazine's Horseplayer Edition.

Also representing the computers, Trackmaster (and the United States Trotting Association) has graciously donated the services of the 'Chatsworth Consortium.' These picks regularly sell for $10 per card, but they will be available free via the pick board, for the meet.

In the human category, HANA has assembled two handicappers with a wealth of knowledge. 'Bobby Z,' 55, started working at the Meadows Racetrack near Pittsburgh in the early 1970s. He was hooked, and has been since. Bobby also worked as an online race analyst for several tip sheets.

"There has been some off time the last two years and I actually thought I was done with it, but Tioga Downs' dropping of the takeout rates has brought me back online for the summer," he said.

Our final human handicapper is Mel. Mel is 64, from the Philadelphia area and has been playing for over 40 years.

"I started out with harness at the old Liberty Bell Park and Brandywine Raceway and was there for so many live racing days I cannot remember."

Mel mainly plays online, and is a dedicated and frequent poster to the picks section of paceadvantage.com.

The challengers will be posting their picks in the harness racing section of paceadvantage.com, and Tioga Downs is working on its handicapping website to post the picks there as well. If any thoroughbred players would like to lend a hand by betting into a harness track that is listening to them, now is your chance. These picks should give a good indoctrination into the harness game, from seasoned veterans, and excellent software.

"HANA would like to thank both Tioga Downs for working with us, and the handicappers who are taking the time to support the track," said HANA President Jeff Platt. "We would like to give a special thank you to Trackmaster, for donating picks from a product that are normally part of their standard product line."

HANA will have continuing updates on its blog, and a side contest, with prizes, will be occurring on paceadvantage.com in the harness section for any players that want to join in.

HANA would like to wish Tioga Downs and everyone that supports them good luck and good racing.

To contact HANA, email [email protected] hanaweb.org.

The Horseplayers Association of North America is a grassroots group of horseplayers, not affiliated with any organization, who are not pleased with the direction the game has taken. HANA believes that both tracks and horseman groups have become bogged down with industry infighting and have completely forgotten something: The importance of the customer. HANA hopes, through proactive change on several key issues (including but not limited to), open signal access, lower effective takeouts, wagering integrity, affordable data and customer appreciation, the industry’s handle losses can be reversed. HANA is currently made up of over 1500 horseplayers (both harness and thoroughbred) from almost all states and Canadian provinces. It currently represents over $70,000,000 of yearly racing handle.