Race, Bet & Scheme
As the horses approached the starting gate for 2002, once
again, 40 individuals tested their luck to become the best on
picking the ponies this year. The first heat on Tuesday evening
saw 29 bettors walk up to the windows. The bettors were competing
for ten spots available in the Saturday Final, a final which
featured the debut of the Gutermuth Downs large board.
the first heat, defending champion Stuart Tucker and previous
champs Ken Gutermuth, Bruce Reiff, and Dennis Nicholson tested
their luck. Tuckered finished third in the closest of the games,
being edged out by Chuck Ellsworth. Only Bruce Reiff of the previous
champion club was able to advance as he blew away the field,
more than doubling his closest competitor. In a low scoring,
race fixing affair, Ken Gutermuth finished last with Peter Stein
surviving the field. Even Hung Jury won a race in this contest.
Dennis Nicholson finished a distant second as perennial finalist
Jim Bell ran away from the field. The final game saw Jim Garvey
easily outdistance his competition to punch his ticket to the
finals. Gerald Lientz managed to be the first person out of the
races as he went broke after only three races.
So after heat 1, only Bruce Reiff emerged from the previous
champions list to advance with Chuck Ellsworth, Peter Stein,
Jim Bell, and Jim Garvey. On Saturday, 11 newcomers joined nine
repeat bettors in an attempt to qualify for the finals. Defending
champion Stuart Tucker tried again but was easily outdistanced
by David "Mr. Race Fixer" Steiner. Jeff August and
John Welage also managed easy wins. Only Jason Levine had to
survive a late rush by Ken Gutermuth to hold on to a narrow victory.
So after two preliminary heats, nine winners had emerged.
Due to scheduling conflicts, two winners would not be available
for the finals leaving room for three runner-ups to advance.
With Gutermuth Downs set up and ready to go, Stuart Tucker volunteered
to be the race steward and Sean McCulloch the banker, assisted
by Nicole Reiff. Not wanting to have Bruce Reiff roll the dice,
Lisa Gutermuth volunteered to be the official die roller for
the set-up complete, winners Bruce Reiff, Jim Bell, Jim Garvey,
David Steiner, Jeff August, John Welage, and Jason Levine were
joined by runner-ups Debbie and Ken Gutermuth, and Robert Drozd.
Ken had the added pressure of this being his team game with his
fellow teammates already registering wins in their respective
Under the rules, only horse owners are allowed a seat at the
track so spirited bidding started as players jockeyed to own
a horse. John Welage managed to get the favorite, Lucky Old Sun
for $3000 while David Steiner got the popular Gunsmoke for $2500.
Questionable racing into the turn saw foul claims lodged against
Gunsmoke owner Steiner by Reiff and Gutermuth. To set the tone
of what was to come, Jason Levine rode Mustard Seed to the first
race winners circle followed by August's Rotunda, Steiner's Gunsmoke,
and Welage's Lucky Old Sun. The foul claim was nullified as David
had bet on his horse to win. Only four bettors managed a payout
with Jim Bell and Rob Drozd taking the early lead.
The second race saw a more sensible auction with Reiff managing
to get popular Indian Giver for $3000 and Steiner getting the
favorites Nothing Special for $1000. In keeping with the first
race, Welage's Corn Plaster beat out Indian Giver and Nothing
Special with Ken Gutermuth's Spelling Bee gathering 4th place.
Everyone except Jeff August cashed in on one of the horses but
John Welage fared the best with a winning bet on Corn Plaster.
Only Reiff and Drozd had Mustard Seed in their Daily double which
explains the large bid for Indian Giver by Reiff. Neither managed
any Daily Double winnings however.
In the always tough to predict third race, the auction was
pretty quiet. When it ended, Rob Drozd had rode Stampede to victory
followed by Levine's Stampede, Welage's Egg Yolk, and Bell's
Bone Bruise. Levine and Drozd were the big winners in the betting
with Jason betting Dunce Cap across the board and Rob having
Stampede to place and show. David Steiner became the games first
casualty as he went bust after the third race.
In the fourth race, only the longshot Crime Wave, $2000 by
August, and passing lane favorite Red Caboose, $1000 by Debbie
Gutermuth, garnered any auction activity. Reiff's Adam's Apple
edged out Debbie Gutermuth's Red Caboose for first with Garvey's
Hot Spook and August's Crime Wave finishing third and fourth.
Most cashed for a little money but no major shift in the standings
When our ponies run in the Final,
its nothing but the best at Gutermuth Downs.
As we entered the critical fifth and sixth races, there was
a clear distinction between the haves and have nots. Still in
contention for the win were Jim Garvey, Bruce Reiff, Jeff August,
John Welage, and Robert Drozd, left looking for a miracle were
Jim Bell, Jason Levine, and the Gutermuths.
In the typical race 5 auction, everyone was waiting on the
longshot Cockroach to bid. This left die rolls to determine several
horses with Bruce Reiff and Ken Gutermuth losing the last two
die rolls to eliminate them from the Cockroach ownership potential
list. Debbie Gutermuth ended up with Cockroach for $7000. The
race, however, was not to the Roach's liking and Rob's Slow Molasses
pulled off the win followed by John's Dying Ember, Jim's Lobster
Tail, and Ken Gutermuth's Traffic Cop. Bruce Reiff gained the
most ground with his pick of Slow Mollasses to win and place
while Levine and the Gutermuth duo ended all hopes with their
It was clear entering the last race that the finals were up
for grabs between four newcomers and the previous champion Reiff.
It could very easily come down to the $25000 purse for the winning
Bruce started off the bidding by taking the favorite, Jungle
Monarch for $3500. After Jim Bell and Jim Garvey picked up Leyte
Gulf and Swami for cheap, bidding on the Mona Lisa went up to
$5000 by Jeff August, followed by $4000 by Rob for Hannibal and
$8000 by Jason for Captain Ahab. So four of our five contenders
owned horses in the critical last race. In a strong finish, Hannibal
managed to beat Jungle Monarch with Mona Lisa and Captain Ahab
finishing out the top four. Jeff, Bruce and Rob all cashed two
of their three bets but the purse money proved enough for Rob
Drozd to come out on top as the best horseman of the year.
The final standings were Rob Drozd $107K, Jim Garvey $86K,
Jeff August $84K, Bruce Reiff $80K, John Welage $61K, Jim Bell
$13.5K, Jason Levine $7K, Debbie Gutermuth $1.1K, Ken Gutermuth
$500, and David Steiner $0.
Congratulations to Rob on a steady and well played game.