Michael Spector, a freelance writer and frequent RacingDudes.com contributor, is the winner of the fourth annual Ron Rippey Award for Handicapping Media for his 2017 Kentucky Derby Pace Thesis that appeared on RacingDudes.com ahead of this year’s Kentucky Derby.
Spector will accept the award and $1,000 cash prize at the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB) Awards Dinner on Thursday, November 2, at the Brigantine restaurant and bar that overlooks both the Pacific Ocean and Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, site of this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships on November 3 & 4.
Spector, 38, grew up going to racetracks with his father and currently lives in Mechanicville, New York, about 25 miles southeast of Saratoga Race Course. To many people (including us), he’s known as Saratoga Slim. We met “Slim” at the 2015 Curlin Stakes at Saratoga Race Course and left that day without knowing his actual name. What we did leave knowing that day was the absolute passion that he has for the sport, and that he’s a fantastic “dude.” After Mike joined the website later that year, we realized that his writing talents displayed both on the site and in our wagering guides are just as strong as his love for the game. There’s no writer more deserving of this award, and we at RacingDudes.com cannot express how proud we are of him.
“It is an awesome feeling to be recognized with this award and that the Racing Dudes have allowed me the freedom to write about topics that interest me like pace handicapping,” Spector said. “The Kentucky Derby is such a unique race that needs its own special handicapping approach, and the Pace Thesis that I’ve compiled on the Racing Dudes website for the past two years has allowed me to come up with some theories about approaching the race that have worked well. I look forward to continuing to develop these theories and look at Derby trends for many years to come.”
Spector’s passion for the sport shows when reading any article that he writes. The time and effort he puts into his work is unmatched. This award means a lot to him.
“I’m so honored to win this award named after handicapper Ron Rippey that I used to read in the Newark Star Ledger,” Spector said. “I’ve been reading handicappers in newspapers since I was 13 years old, and all of their work has influenced me over the past 25 years. Now that print journalism in daily newspapers has almost become extinct, it’s great that organizations like Brisnet are recognizing internet journalism and handicapping focusing on horse racing. I’d like to thank them for sponsoring this award.”
Analyzing the Kentucky Derby pace is one of the hardest jobs of the year for a handicapper, but also one of the most important jobs in racing. The pace makes the race, as they say, and Spector helped thousands of people with understanding what might unfold.
“A lot of work went into this to explain a complex topic clearly and keep the reader interested and engaged,” said Jessie Oswald, the NTWAB secretary who served as a Rippey Award judge alongside Team Valor’s Jeff Lowe. “This was written about the Kentucky Derby, but there was an education element to it that could apply to any race.”
Rippey won the 2006 NHC and was a 10-time qualifier for the prestigious event. He also contributed his handicapping thoughts to the Newark Star-Ledger and Brisnet.com.
“Handicapping horse races is both an art and a science, and the ability to produce compelling content about the topic is a specialty that deserves recognition,” said Brisnet.com Director of Marketing Ed DeRosa. “We not only want to acknowledge the good work done in this regard, but also encourage people to continue to produce this type of content. Who better to honor than successful handicapper and newspaper columnist Ron Rippey?
“Ron’s enthusiasm for both playing the game and writing about it was infectious. He wanted to beat you, but he wanted everyone to have fun, too, which is the essence of a good day at the races.”
For more information on attending the NTWAB dinner, visit NTWAB.org.