More Slots Not the Answer ...
Usual Track junkies John Welage, Bruce
Reiff, Jim garvey and Jeremy Billones try to qualify for the
Gadoon Kyrollus, John Tighe, Craig
Fox and Jason Levine try to bankroll a trip to the Lancaster
The horse racing industry has been fading for a long time
- relying on adrenaline from legalized slots gambling to prop
up its sagging fortunes all over the country. This trend is also
visible at WBC where attendance has been trending downwards.
At the end of the 2009 racing season, it was decided to increase
the demand for slots in the "WBC Derby" with a third
day of qualifying on the card for the 2010 season. The wisdom
of this decision was confirmed when the Racing Association temporarily
reversed the decrease in the number of entries and added a definite
rise in the excitement level since the change would not only
mean that there would be increased opportunities to play the
game, but also to qualify for the big board Final. Despite Win,
Place, & Show being a "6-player" game, having
more than six in a game ensures that the auction for horses becomes
a more crucial part of the game. Bidding is no longer a matter
of having to take some nag just to fill the field, but an integral
part of one's strategy in securing a mount to control in each
race. Alas, despite the extra heat, the field hit a 13-year low
The summer racing program at Lancaster Downs got off to its
usual fast start with most of the usual handicappers on hand.
There were eight programs run over three heats to determine entry
into the Final. Ken Gutermuth managed to win two heats - thus
narrowing the field to seven punters going for glory. Joining
Ken were Jason Levine, Greg Fox, John Welage, Bruce Reiff, Gadoon
Kyrollos, and Jeremy Billones. Ten previous championships were
represented at the rail for the Final in the form of Reiff (4),
Welage (3), Levine (1), and Gutermuth (2).
The stiffness of the competition was represented by the amount
of winnings required to gain entrance to the Final. Most of the
heats required over $200,000 to be competitive. Indeed, sometimes
that wasn't even enough. Levine couldn't win in his first attempt
despite garnering over $201K and two-time champion Dave Steiner
exceeded $230K in a late heat only to be bested by Levine's $250K.
The tracks (with only one exception) were indeed fast.
When it came to the Final, however, the weather apparently
turned. All contestants kept their cash close to their vests
and were frustrated in the early going by several upsets. This,
in turn, kept even the wisest of handicappers from amassing a
large lead in the early going. As late as Race 5, most of the
field remained competitive and the bidding for the favored mounts
became quite spirited.
Despite large sums paid for the favorites (and some not so
favored but important horses) the results were still spotty at
the finish line. The owner/jockeys were also in tight control
of their mounts as the foul claims, which had been prevalent
in the heats, were non-existent in the Final. When the mud had
dried at the end of the sixth race, we had a new champion to
welcome to the club. Jeremy Billones parlayed good race management
and careful cash flow into $110K to best the field on a slow
track. This was a quite a bit less money than needed for advancement
into the high stakes game but more than enough to finish in front.
Greg Fox's $90K Placed while Kyrolles Showed with $80K. All three
were new to the Winner's Circle. As for the former champions,
they all had kept close reins on one another and none finished
with more than $60K to show for their efforts. But most telling
of all, in the Year of the Decline of the Reiff empire, Bruce
was not only denied a plaque but finished dead last and out of
the laurels in a field of seven. We're sure that he will be back,
however, for WBC 2012.
GM Jim Burnett orchestrates the action
for the big board Final.
Bruce Reiff, Craig Fox and Jason Levine
have no reason to cheer.