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The Laurel Handicap Updated July 12, 2023

By Stuart “The Happy Handicapper” Tucker


2023 Part 1 — June 22, 2023

The 2023 Laurel Handicap: The Morning Line from the Happy Handicapper

By Stuart K. Tucker

New Bern, NC¬¬—Welcome back to this year’s Laurel Handicap—the Run for the Woods. We have high expectations of a larger field than last year, turning odds-making into a lot of statistical mumbo-jumbo guesswork. Last year’s favorite, The Harry B’s, ran off at very low odds (14-1) due to the small field of 43 teams, but managed only to finish fifth. The sixth-ranked team, Uncivil Servants (23-1) lost in the photo finish to the surprise stretch run of Iron Meeples (59-1). Never walk away on the second Sunday thinking you have it wrapped up. You can’t count on a win at the quarter pole. Congratulations to Iron Meeples for a fine finish. The handicapper’s Pick Ten choices were mediocre last year. Only three of the ten picks crossed the finish in the top ten. The longer-shot pick of The (Eu) Gene Pool (90-1) was an inspired choice, finishing third, but frankly the rest of the picks lacked luster.

Those who picked the ultimate long-shot Chaos Magiants (9000-1) were greatly rewarded with a sixth-place finish. Congratulations to Chris Bizzell for having the guts to make that call, clinching the Bracket Busting contest. Needless to say, the success of Chaos Magiants has earned them a huge jump in their odds of winning it all this year, as they are 300-1 in assumed field of 80+ teams. Let us also congratulate the weakest Greenville Mafia team (Clippers, 1500-1) for beating the others and claiming eight place last year. It is getting harder to pick the top ranked Greenville Mafia team when they can’t get out of their state with top honors!

This year the morning line has improved for The Siegelmen and Me & Three Stiffs due to their strong 2022 performances (even if they didn’t get the Team Tournament points to show it). We Don’t Need No Stinkin’s Formats is still chasing The Harry B’s for top-ranked status. Maybe it is time again for a lineup change? Among the longer shots, The Train Conductors had a good year in 2022 and deserved attention this year, as did Los Lobos Locos. Among the teams that did not run last year, some had impressive individual performances by members. Perhaps they will return in 2023 as teams. Look out for Team Medici, No Dice, and Two Off the Top as possible long plays. This may also be a year for the return of a Canucks team to glory as well.

We are just a month away from the Run for the Woods. Don’t procrastinate. Get your team together ASAP.



2023 Part 2 — July 7, 2023

The 2023 Laurel Handicap: The Preliminary Line from the Happy Handicapper

By Stuart K. Tucker

New Bern, NC, July 7, 2023¬¬—Entries are arriving for the Run for the Woods. Many of the usual suspects are here, but some have regrouped. Perhaps most dangerous is that the returning champs Iron Meeples (48-1) have improved their team over last year’s entry. Terrafarmers (36-1) have reclaimed an old name and look to improve on their ninth-place last year. Perennial contender, Bruce Reiff, has regrouped to form Ken and the Barbies (45-1). The Harry B’s (23-1) return intact as the favorites with Nest of Spies (28-1) as a strong challenger. We Ain’t Dead Yet (42-1) continues to live up to their name. Four Random Dudes is rebranded and improved as 7Springs Summer Ski Team (54-1). The current long shot is 123454321 (400-1).

Quite a lot of talent has not yet registered their teams, so expect these odds to move in coming days. We are just a days away from the team entry deadline for the Run for the Woods. Don’t procrastinate. Get your team together ASAP.



2023 Part 3 — July 12, 2023

The 2023 Laurel Handicap: Part 3

By Stuart K. Tucker

New Bern, NC, July 11, 2023¬¬—As the deadline for entries draws very near, it is time to start sharpening our focus on possible Pick Ten choices. The Greenville Mafia is back in force again this year. Their top-ranked team is stacked. Mafia: The Dons is currently fourth ranked at 33-1 odds. Uncivil Servants (37-1), last year’s runner-up, improves with the addition of Irving. Coffin Flop (69-1) may be renamed, but they remain mid-ranked. Chaos Magiants (140-1) looks to build on last year’s success. We have a number of talented teams from previous years that may make last-minute entries. And then there are those Canucks—perhaps they will surprise me and score big this year. Team Delaware (60-1) is back to make another run. If you are looking for an edge with a longer-shot, you can’t go wrong with Los Lobos Locos (89-1). I suggest avoiding those teams running at 200-1 or worse, as they tend to be one-horse teams with no reasonable shot.

Get in your entries today! It would be nice to see our team entry numbers back into the 70s.