Race, Bet & Scheme
As the horses approached the starting gate for 2002, 40 individuals
tested their luck to become the best on picking the ponies this
year. The first heat on Tuesday evening saw 28 bettors walk
up to the windows while 23 more, including 11 repeats, tested
their luck in the Saturday heat. The nine preliminary games would
each advance a winner to the Saturday Final.
In the first heat, two-time defending champion Ken Gutermuth,
three-time champion Bruce Reiff, and previous winners Dennis
Nicholson and Stuart Tucker tested their luck and gained entry
into the final.
On Tuesday, Dave Ketchum, Chris Palermo, Joe Abrams, Debbie
Garver, and Jeff Bakalchuck attempted to knock out the defending
champ Ken Gutermuth. Dave and Joe's consistent winnings in
the first two races, Ken's good payout in race 2 and Jeff's big
win in race 3 kept four in contention after three races. The
game remained close with Dave building a lead until the last
race when Jeff was able to earn a big payoff, coupled with the
$25K purse to pull away from the field
Gerald Lientz, Lee Presser, Luke Koleszar, Jim Bell, and Jonathon
Lockwood took their shot at previous champion Dennis Nicholson.
Jim mastered the field as he increased his money after every
race to advance to the finals. Late race payouts for Lee were
not enough to catch perennial finalist Bell.
Jim Garvey, Bruce Monnin, Jason Levine, and Rob Kircher attempted
to take out Bruce "Mr. Wood" Reiff. Jason jumped out
early with a huge payout in race 1. This was followed by large
payouts to Reiff in race 2 and Jim in race 3 turning this into
a three-man race. Reiff would not win another bet until the
last race and Jim would lose in the subsequent races to allow
Jason's good payout in race 6 to vault him into the finals.
Mathieu Yuill, John Emory Steve Cuccaro, and Kevin Hacker
took on perennial finalist Chuck Ellsworth. Very few payouts
highlighted this game and Chuck was able to ride his purse money
winnings into the finals.
Jeff Finkeldey, Anna Marie Palermo, Dick Jarvinen, Frank Sinigaglio,
and John Tighe finished the first heat trying to eliminate previous
champ Stuart Tucker. Stuart built up a steady lead throughout
the game, with a good payout in race 2 and decent payouts in
the last two races to move onto the finals.
So after heat 1, only Stuart Tucker emerged from the previous
champions list to advance to the finals with Jeff Bakalchuck,
Jim Bell, Jason Levine, and Chuck Ellsworth.
With defending champion Ken not competing in the second heat
due to a schedule conflict, a new champion would be crowned before
the Slapshot tournament that night.
On Saturday, Bruce Monnin, Jonathon Lockwood, and Jim Garvey
took another shot against John Wallace, Sean McCulloch, and Mike
Zorrer. Bruce rode big wins in the 1st, 4th, and 6th races to
an easy victory.
Dick Jarvinen, Mathieu Yuill, Debbie Garver, and Chris Palermo
returned to face Bill Riggs and newcomer Pitt Crandlemeire.
Pitt's early win in race 1 and bets on the Roach in race 5 lead
him to victory making the GM wonder if he had taught him too
many of the tricks of the game.
Joe Abrams and Anna Marie Palermo returned to test their skill
against Devin Flawd, Dave Stecher, and Chris Greenfield. Anne
Marie was able to build up a steady lead to overcome the field
and advance to the finals.
In the last of the heat games, Bruce Reiff would attempt to
advance against Chuck Ellsworth, Jeffrey Hacker, Jeff August,
Ed Majeski, and Mark Kennel. Large payouts in race 2 and 3 and
a win in the daily double vaulted Bruce into the lead. With
a sizable lead, the veteran Reiff bought the Roach in race 5
and the Roach got lost on the outside the whole race. A huge
win in race 6 lead to Bruce's advancement into the finals.
Seven of the nine qualifiers were able to participate in the
finals. In the 1st race, Bruce Reiff, Jason Levine, and Bruce
Monnin cashed in big as Gunsmoke emerged in a fast race to take
an early lead. Spirited bidding on Indian Giver rose his price
to $8,000 as the often bet 1-6 daily double was still in play.
With Stuart Tucker winning the auction for Indian Giver, skepticism
entered the betting by the perennial finalists, not knowing whether
Stuart would run the Giver to win or saddle him up for a stroll
around the outside of the track. Conservative Bruce R bet the
favorite across the board and emerged the smartest as The Giver
never had a chance. Jason claimed a foul on the horse's owner
but the crafty veteran Tucker had covered his bases with the
$1K bet on Indian Giver to win. Monnin's daily double win vaulted
him into the lead after two races.
In the third race, a win by Dunce Cap brought more money into
the coffers of Levine and Reiff who now passed Monnin. Tucker
and Chuck Ellsworth were slightly ahead of their starting capital
and Jim Bell and Anna Marie Palermo were slightly below the $50K
starting money as they couldn't get anything going.
In race 4, Red Caboose lead the way and Palermo was the only
winner with Bell being the only other player to receive any payout.
This left Reiff with a $20K lead on Monnin and Levine and a
$0-$50K lead on the rest of the field heading into the critical
last two races.
In the critical 5th race, Bruce R was the odd man out in owning
a horse. The perennial wild card in this race, the Cockroach,
went for $6K to Jason. The race was too slow for the Roach to
win but two bonus numbers and the inside lane allowed the Roach
to come in 2nd to Lobster Tail. Jason's bets on the Roach across
the board and Monnin's Place and Show bets on the Roach vaulted
the two of them into the lead. Tucker began his run for the
wood with bets across the board on his Lobster Tail, earning
three payouts and the purse money.
This set the stage for a wild finish with Monnin and Levine
in a virtual tie, Reiff $10K behind, and Tucker trying to make
the late charge. After the auction, Stuart owned his favorite
Mona Lisa, Anna Marie owned longshot Captain Ahab, Bruce M owned
the other longshot Hannibal, Jim owned Jungle Monarch, Chuck
owned Leyte Gulf, and Bruce R. owned Swami. The leader, Jason,
would not be earning purse money and would hope to hold on through
his bets as he was without a horse.
Two bonus numbers for Hannibal and one for Captain Ahab were
not enough as Mona Lisa prevailed in a moderately paced race
with Captain Ahab finishing 2nd, and Jungle Monarch 3rd. The
purse money for the win put Stuart near the top with Monnin.
and Levine and the game would come down to the final bets. Monnin
and Levine had put all their money on Hannibal and were left
with no return on the last race, opening up the field. Reiff
hedged his bets with a win bet on Ahab and place & show on
Mona Lisa but came up short of a 4th win in this event. Tucker
rode his horse once again with bets across the board on Mona
Lisa to triumph and become the third multiple winner in this
event. Final Standings were Tucker $132.5K, Reiff $101.5K,
Levine $92.5K, Monnin $87K, Palermo $77K, Bell $67.5K, and Ellsworth
$60.5K to earn the distinction of one of the first finals where
every player had positive earnings for the game.