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Dave Sellner Wins February 2, 2013, ‘Last Chance’ Handicapping Contest

Arlington Park Communications | 03/24/2014 #

Mike Siano and Frank Garcia Round Out the ‘Last Chance Three’

 Dave Sellner achieved an unusual accomplishment, winning two handicapping contests in a row.  Sellner was the winner of the final 2012 Fall OTB Tour handicapping contest held in December.  You can read his story of that win by clicking here.

His win of the free-standing Last Chance handicapping contest is a similar story:  look deep for a prime- prospect wager, step up to the plate, take your swing, and go for the long ball.

“I had two primary wagers in mind when I came to Arlington’s Tavern on North parlor last Saturday,” Sellner began.  “My first wager was a trifecta at Aqueduct, and I was nosed out in a photo.

“For my other entry I had designed a pick-five ticket at Gulfstream,” Sellner continued.  “That one went better.

“I knew Gulfstream was coming back chalky (favorites winning) all day, and I did like some favorites in the pick five, but I also spread out in some races” explained Sellner.  “Frankly, I was surprised when the pick five paid over $700.  That put my bankroll at $758.75.

“Once more I had to decide whether to sit tight or try to build my bankroll even higher,” revealed Sellner.  “A couple of guys sitting near me were making noise about having big totals, bigger than mine, but I know from experience that those guys will deliberately try to mislead, just to amuse themselves.  So I decided to sit on my total.  It worked.”

His first-place finish earns Sellner a paid entry, worth $1,500, into the February, 2013, Coast Casino’s Horse Player World Series (HWS) to be held at The Orleans Resort in Las Vegas.  Sellner will also receive a travel voucher worth $350.  The top prize in the HWS is estimated to be $270,000.  Last year in the HWS prize money was paid down to the 60th finisher.

Sellner’s goal?  Obviously, to win the HWS.  “A Chicago guy, Jim Benes, won the NHC (DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship) in January,” Sellner reminded, “and I want to make it a Chicagoan sweep of the two national handicapping tournaments.  It would be especially gratifying because both of us use our own information and solid, good-old-fashioned handicapping.  Neither of us wins by stabbing at long shots and benefitting from lightning strikes.”

Mike Siano is one of the most regular handicapping contest players on the local circuit.  He has traveled to every location where Arlington offers contests, and for harness as well as for Thoroughbred contests.  His efforts have been rewarded by several finishes high enough to earn him extra prize money.  The Last Chance contest was no exception.

“Jockeys figure into my picking,” Siano began.  “At Gulfstream I like the three ‘Z’s’.  That’s Lopez, Velasquez, and Saez.  I try to work around them.

“During the day I picked up a 50-cent trifecta that returned over a hundred dollars,” Siano continued.  “After that, it was another hundred-plus return on a 10-cent superfecta. 


“But my bigger hit was an exacta box using Saez and Lopez that paid about $65 for $2, and I had a $6 ticket on it,” revealed Siano.

Siano was briefly disappointed about coming so close, again, to winning the Vegas trip, but he is not the kind of person to look back with regrets.  In fact he looks forward.  “I ran my $100 into almost $500 ($468.41), and I win another $500 for finishing second.  That’s 10 times over on my beginning bankroll.  I just may use that money to enter the HWS on my own.”  That’s the spirit.

Frank Garcia is also a frequent contest player, and he did well for himself last Saturday by running his $100 bankroll up to $307.50 and finishing third.

“I’m retired and I’ve been playing horses a long time, and I’m still improving,” Garcia offered.  “These contests and your (this correspondent’s) classes have helped me, especially your emphasis on doing your homework ahead of time, picking your spots, and managing your money as well as yourself.  No more guessing for me.”

Garcia did his homework on the Tampa Bay card.  “I had a couple of horses at decent odds singled out, and they both hit,” he explained.  “The first paid $17.20 to win and the second paid $18.00, and I had $10 to win on each.  That’s the bulk of my winnings.”

“I didn’t win my way to Vegas, but I’m going anyway,” Garcia concluded.  There’s a group of 4-5 of us who regularly play in your contests, and we are planning to go to the HWS on our own.  All of us have had some success in these contests so we feel it’s worth a try out there.  It will be a good experience.”  The spirit continues.

To view the final standings from the Last Chance contest, click here

The handicapping contests and seminars continue.  Arlington will be offering several contests at several of its Trackside betting parlors during the spring and fall downtime, and is planning a number of seminar/contests during the live meet which begins Friday, May 3.  Monitor plans by going to Arlington’s web site,  Or, you can email me at and ask me to add you to my email list so you will receive notices of each upcoming seminar/contest.   

We want to send you to Vegas, but you can’t win it unless you get in it.  Even if you don’t always finish in the top spots and win the Vegas trip or prize money, you will sharpen your handicapping and your money management skills by participating, and it’s free to enter and play.  It’s one of the best deals in racing.


M. Scott McMannis

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