Posts Tagged ‘Alan Grant’

Best Luck I’ve Had in a Long Time

Friday, April 6th, 2012

By Michael Kaufman 

I haven’t won a a contest of any kind since I was in high school and my friends and I used to call in to radio station WLIR during Alan Grant’s “Jazz Nocturne” broadcasts. Grant would give away record albums, tickets to jazz concerts, and even a free paint job for your car provided by one of his sponsors. You just had to be the first person to call in with the correct answer to a question, such as, “Who is playing tenor saxophone on this next song?”

WLIR was then a small radio station on Long Island. My school friends and I were among the “beautiful Jazz Nocturne listeners,” as Grant called the small band of fans of his show. We would wait by the phone for the contest with our Downbeat magazines open to the page with the results of the annual readers’ poll. If we didn’t recognize the tenor sax player immediately we would simply try a name on the list. If it wasn’t the right answer we would hang up and call again with the next name.

“Is it Leo Wright?”

“Wrong.” [click]

“Is it Lockjaw Davis.”

“No.” [click]

“Is it Johnny Griffin?”

“We have a winner!”

I can still see my father shaking his head: “You won another paint job for the car?”

My friends Steve Press and Arnold Adlin won at least as often as I did. So did a kid named Paul Fischler, who we met after we all won tickets to the same jazz brunch concert at the Garden City Hotel featuring Booker Ervin on tenor sax, Johhny Coles on trumpet, and Horace Parlan on piano.

This all came to mind because the other day I received an email that said, “Mr. Kaufman, Congratulations on being our grand prize winner of the 2011-2012 Race of the Day contest! The prize includes a VIP trip to the Kentucky Derby, including a stipend to help defray travel costs. This prize is not transferable. Are you able to attend this year’s race?”

I had been playing in the Race of the Day contest for four months but after a good start, I was picking fewer and fewer winners lately. “Guess I’ll be watching the Derby on TV again this year,” I told Louie, one of my horseplayer friends, who was also competing.

The contest  is a national online handicapping competition sponsored by Bloodstock Research Information Services (, which provides past performance information and other data pertaining to thoroughbred racing. Each day of the contest it posts past performances for a single race and contestants try to pick the winner. Thousands of entrants take part for a chance to win the grand prize, a three-day, two-night trip to Louisville, including a pair of choice tickets to the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 5. The prize also includes tickets for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks, which features the best three-year-old fillies in the country, as well as hotel accommodations, meals, and $500 towards travel expenses.

I looked at the email and read it over and over again.  I laughed. I whooped and hollered, although no one was home except our dog Benji, who tilted his head and looked at me quizzically, and daughter Gahlia, who was asleep in the next room. I woke her up and tried to tell her the news but she just grunted and went back to sleep.

I read the email one last time. Am I able to attend this year’s race?  IS THE POPE CATHOLIC? This is a dream come true for a horseplayer, the equivalent of tickets on the 50-yard line for the Super Bowl or the seventh game of the World Series.  OF COURSE I AM ABLE!

Maybe I’ll even ask them to throw in a paint job for the car. I haven’t felt this lucky in a long time.

Michael can be reached at