Race, Bet & Scheme
Place, and Show continued to grow since moving to a second
heat in the Tuesday late night slot. Apparently with people arriving
earlier for the auction, our horse racing fans had plenty of
time to rest up before competing in the late night heat. The
Tuesday heat had a record eight boards of WPS. With such a large
field in the first heat, our racers needed to win in order to
ensure themselves a spot at the Big Track on Saturday.
On the first board, Josh Githens backed Captain Ahab in the
last race to finish on top. Josh was able to use his Mafia influence
to take out three-time champion Bruce Reiff and the rest of his
challengers. Bruce was one of 20 racers who left the track with
less cash than they brought. On the second board, two-time champion
Ken Gutermuth remained in contention throughout and then pulled
away with the victory on a strong finish by Mona Lisa in the
final race. On a track that proved to be tough on our racers,
Ted Drozd advanced by edging out John Welage in one of two games
the first evening featuring a winner with less than $100K. Patricia
Patel held on to a slim lead over Dave Buchholz in our closest
finish of the evening. Patricia rode Mona Lisa in the final race
to finish $1500 ahead of Dave. Frank Sinigaglio outpaced Alex
Vye in a shootout to finish with the largest first day payout,
$175K. Both these jockeys rode the coattails of Swami in the
last race to outdistance the rest of the field at their track.
At our only track that saw all of the owners make money, Chris
Palermo led the way, knocking off perennial finalist Charles
Ellsworth. Former Champion Dennis Nicholson rode Mona Lisa to
a late payout in the 6th race to sneak past Vince Collura in
another close finish. Our final card on Tuesday evening saw another
defending champion, Stuart Tucker, eat dust as Mona Lisa got
stuck in the turn and the favorite, Jungle Monarch led Luke Koleszar
our jockeys' second attempt to make the featured races on Saturday
afternoon, another four tracks were needed, guaranteeing that
a win was required to make the evening race card. Our first track
on Saturday saw one of the perennial race fixers in the game,
Dave Steiner, keep our own Happy Handicapper and former Champion,
Stuart Tucker, out of the finals for the second straight year.
Dave rode Captain Ahab to victory in the final race to finish
ahead of Brad Raszewski and our Handicapper. At our next Track,
Vince Collura got an early lead and never looked back as he joined
the ranks of the finalists in the paddock for the first time.
In a hard fought battle with newcomer David Foster, perennial
finalist Jim Bell came out on top to punch his ticket to the
finals. In the process, Jim helped assure the field that former
champion Bruce Reiff would be among the missing in the finals
as Bruce once again left the track with less money than be brought.
Bruce, always the standout, was the only one of our returning
jockeys to achieve this dubious distinction in both heats. Our
final preliminary saw Jeff August double his closest competitor
to post the highest purse of the tournament with $177K.
The field was now set as eleven of our twelve winners returned
to ready themselves for the final showdown on the Big Track.
Our list of finalists included two former Champions in Dennis
Nicholson and Ken Gutermuth, perennial finalist Jim Bell in search
of team points, Mr. Fixer Dave Steiner, along with Luke Koleszar,
Frank Sinigaglio, Patricia Patel, Ted Drozd, Josh Githens, Jeff
August, and Vince Collura. On what proved to be a very fast track
at the beginning of the race card, no-one was able to gain much
money in the first two races as the Eight Ball/Indian Giver 6-6
Daily Double produced no winners. Josh and Jim managed to forge
a lead in these races while everyone else struggled just to stay
even. The third race saw Josh increase his lead with Jim Bell
and Jeff August beginning to gain some distance from the field
as Stampede romped to victory in another fast race. The ever
unpredictable 4th race saw Josh increase his lead as Crime Wave
sprinted to victory. Dave Steiner was the big gainers in the
4th while Jim Bell got skunked and Jeff August managed a modest
gain. Frank Sinigaglio became the first casualty of the finals,
running out of money after the 4th race. In the 5th, Dave Steiner
bought the Cockroach causing everyone to wonder whether to bet
the best long shot on the day's card or not. Another fast race
and a well run race from Mr. Fixer saw the Roach pull off the
victory and send Dave Steiner into the lead followed by Jim Bell
going into the last race. Ken Gutermuth had bet the roach to
win to allow him to stay within striking distance of the leaders.
Josh continued to falter down the stretch. The last race saw
some lively bidding as Dave Steiner aggressively sought out one
of the long shots, Captain Ahab, while Josh set his sights on
the other long shot, Hannibal. Jim Bell went for the favorite
leaving Jeff August and Ken Gutermuth among the contenders to
vie for Mona Lisa as they noticed the storm clouds rolling in.
As the horses entered the starting gates, the rain began to fall
making the track very slow. As the horses entered the final turn,
it was clear that Ken and Jeff were gaining ground as Mona Lisa
began to look like a sure thing. When the horses finally reached
the finish line, it was Mona Lisa easily outdistancing the field.
Josh, who had bet on the two long shots, had seen any hope disappear
with the speed of the race. Dave and Jim covered themselves by
betting Mona Lisa to win. Jeff, in a move that would end up costing
himself the win, had only bet his own Mona Lisa to place and
show. Former Champion Ken Gutermuth was the big winner as he
correctly read the weather and bet Mona Lisa across the board.
Dave Steiner's 4th place purse money left the outcome cloudy
as both Dave and Ken knew it was too close to call. As the final
cash was tallied, Dave Steiner's purse money proved the difference
as he edged out Ken by $6K. Finishing out of the laurels and
back in the pack were Dennis Nicholson, Patricia Patel, Luke
Koleszar, Vince Collura and Frank Sinigaglio in that order. Only
the last two lost money during the finals. Overall, 25% of the
participants failed to gain or break-even during the tournament.
The big board awaits the winners
at the WBC Derby.