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Dan Pavlik Picks Five, Wins Vegas Trip for Fall, 2011

Arlington Park Communications | 03/24/2014 #

Paul Hoffman, Bob Lowe, Mike Siano Round Out the Top Four

It took a little while to get there, but Arlington’s Fall, 2011, OTB Tour of handicapping contests completed the qualifying rounds on December 3 then was able to hold the finals on December 10 at Arlington Trackside.

Qualifying rounds were held on select Saturdays in October, November, and December at select Arlington Off-Track Betting facilities.  The primary objective for the handicapping contest player was to finish in the top 10 in a qualifying round in order to earn his/her way into the December 10 finals.  The additional objective was to place in the top five in a qualifying round to win prize money.

In all, five qualifying rounds were held to make for 50 entries in the finals.  The primary objective in the finals was to finish first and win what contestants refer to as ‘The Vegas Trip.’  The Vegas Trip is an expense-paid trip to Las Vegas to play in the Coast Casinos Horse Player World Series (HWS) to be held in February at The Orleans.  The objective for the HWS?  Finish first and win a cool quarter-million dollars, the estimated first prize.    

Dan Pavlik accomplished his objective of winning The Vegas Trip.  A long-time regular on the Arlington handicapping contest circuit, Pavlik accomplished his goal once before.  “I managed to win The Vegas Trip in 2009,” Pavlik revealed.  “Ever since, I have wanted to earn my way back to the HWS.

“I was a contrarian for last Saturday’s finals,” Pavlik explained.  “I figured most finalists would be handicapping and betting Hawthorne and maybe New York, so I decided to look for attractive bets at Hollywood Park and The Fair Grounds.

“As it happened, I liked my prospects in the Pick Five at both tracks,” Pavlik continued.  “Furthermore, I felt I could cover my horses with a 48-combination ticket for each Pick Five.  Since their Pick Fives are 50-cent bets, I had a $24 investment in each.

“I missed the Fair Grounds Pick Five but hit the Hollywood one,” Pavlik concluded.  “My ticket was a 2 x 2 x 2 x 3 x 2, which comes out to the aforementioned 48 combos and $24 investment.  The payout was $904.” 

Let’s see.  Pavlik turned $50 into over $900, plus won $175 in prize money, plus the trip to Las Vegas with Arlington paying the expenses (HWS entry fee, hotel room, travel voucher)…that’s about $3,000 for his beginning $50 bankroll, 60 times his money.

Paul Hoffman also had a good day, finishing second with $334.60 for his $50 bankroll, plus earning prize money of $100.  “I’m happy with that,” declared Hoffman.  “I couldn’t have done better to the point of catching Dan, so I’ll settle for second. 

“I’ve been to the HWS before” continued Hoffman, “and I really want to win the trip again, but I have to do my best with what the races offer, and if that means second place, so be it.  The next time could be my turn.”

Hoffman is very selective and often waits for one, maybe two, solid bets on a card.  He has won more than one contest with only one or two win bets, and earned his way into the finals with an exacta bet.  His success disproves the philosophy of some that handicapping contests can only be won with exotic bets.

Hoffman’s big score last Saturday was an exacta wager.  “I handicapped the ninth race at Hawthorne and figured Littlebrownroad was going to do what he usually does, finish second again.

“You (this correspondent) mentioned Littlebrownroad in your pre-race handicapping seminar,” Hoffman continued, “and you also mentioned the eventual winner, Gato’s Pirate.  What I did was make a $14 exacta part-wheel with Littlebrownroad to run second and a couple of others, including Gato’s Pirate, to win. 

“The race came back Gato’s Pirate and Littlebrownroad and the exacta paid $48.40 for $2 so having it seven times gave me about $355,” revealed Hoffman.

I have always contended that contest play makes one a better handicapper and bettor.  Hoffman supports that contention.  “I am definitely better than I used to be as a result of playing in these real-money, live bankroll, handicapping contests,” he offered.  “One is forced to handicap more thoroughly, be more selective, and to make the right wagers when called for.

“I come to the races more often now because I’m a better player,” continued Hoffman.  “That’s a direct result of developing more skill and, of course, adding in your insights from your pre-race seminars.  Listening to how you handicap a race has also made me better.

“I, and my fellow contest players, really appreciate Arlington’s handicapping contests,” Hoffman concluded.  “I wish we had one every week.  As soon as one is over, I can’t wait for the next one.”     

Bob Lowe is another consistent contestant.  “I was hoping you were calling me to tell me I won,” Lowe began.  “I wasn’t convinced my total of $169 would be enough, but you never know.

“I didn’t do anything special,” Lowe continued.  “I bet a few small exactas, a double or two, a trifecta or two.  I didn’t make a lot of money, but anytime I make a profit, I’m happy.”

Adding Lowe’s prize money to his ending bankroll makes for over a four-time multiple of his beginning bankroll.  How may fans at Trackside last Saturday would have liked to walk out with that result?

Mike Siano is yet another consistent contestant, having played in contests at every Arlington venue, including Quad Cities Downs when contests were held there.  “It’s fun, I’m going to be betting anyway, so why not take a shot at some additional prize money, even the Vegas trip,” Siano offered.

Siano spreads his wealth.  “I look around for bets,” he explained.  “I know I bet Turfway, Aqueduct, and Beulah in the contest, and others on the side.

“The score that earned the bulk of my winnings for the day came with a Pick Three at Turfway,” Siano revealed.  “That got me about $90.  For the day I tripled my money, so I’m happy.

“I wish we had a contest every Saturday,” said Siano, echoing Hoffman.  “It makes for a special day at the races when all of us regulars get together.  I enjoy seeing the group, and your assistant, Jake, Mr. Congeniality.  When’s the next contest?”

In the spring.  Arlington personnel are meeting during the down-time for Chicago racing and determining the particulars of our spring series.  Once plans are finalized the news will be released and particulars will appear here on The McMannis Blog.  If you are on my email list for blog alerts, you will be notified by email when that story with complete details is posted.  If you wish to be added to my blog alert email list, request by emailing me at

To view the standings for the December 10 finals, click here


M. Scott McMannis

  • Handicapping Seminar and Contest Host, Arlington Park
  • Expert Selections Handicapper,
  • Midwest Correspondent, The HorsePlayer Magazine
  • Owner and Publisher, The McMannis Speed Figure & Trip Note Service Newsletter,
  •      And Arlington and Hawthorne Trainer Patterns