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Dave Sellner Wins Final ‘Last Chance’ Handicapping Contest of the 2011 AHC Series

Arlington Park Communications | 03/24/2014 #

Ken Kieras, Don Fritz, Carol Wittmeyer, Tom Reed Round Out Top Five

It was the final contest of the 2011 Arlington Handicapping Challenge series, often referred to by fans as the “last chance” contest since it is one last chance for AHC series players to add to their cumulative point total.  The goal:  finish on top in the cumulative standings and win the same prize package as the individual contest winners garnered during the summer series.

That prize is generically referred to by contestants as the Las Vegas trip.  That’s shorthand for a trip to Las Vegas to play in the February, 2012, Coast Casinos Horse Player World Series (HWS) where the grand prize is estimated to be $300,000.  Arlington pays the HWS entry fee of $1,500, plus hotel accommodations, and includes a travel voucher.  The prize package is valued at over $2,000.

While the ‘last chance’ contest did not offer the Las Vegas trip to the top finisher that day, it did offer the same prize money to the top five finishers as the other contests in the 2011 AHC series.  Thus, contestants had two reasons to play:  prize money for the day and a chance to score big, end up with the highest total for the series, and go to the HWS.

“I knew going in that I needed to have a big day,” began Dave Sellner, who finished first in the September 24 ‘last chance’ contest with a big final bankroll of $1,264.  “My cumulative total for the summer wasn’t large, and I knew the leader in the cumulative standings had around $2,400, so I had to have a strategy to score big.

“After handicapping the Arlington races for that day,” continued Sellner, “I decided to concentrate on a specific pick three early in the card, plus the late pick four and the pick five.  In my estimation they offered the best chance for me to overtake the leader.

“I hit my selected pick three which put my bankroll up over $800,” Sellner revealed.  “I also hit the late pick four which added another $500 or so, but missed the pick five by just one race.  It paid over $9,000 for a dollar.  I don’t know what it would have paid if I had hit it, but with the big prices that day, my pick five would have moved me to the top of the cumulative standings.”

Does he have any regrets?  “Of course I would have loved to win the cumulative prize, just like everybody else who played that day,” Sellner conjectured.  “But my style is to go for the big score and try to win going away.  I’m not a grinder.  A lot of the time I won’t hit big, but when I do, it’s worth it.  I played the right way, it just didn’t quite hit.”

However, it was still worth it.  Sellner made more than 12 times over on his beginning bankroll of $100 and put up a total that would often win a free-standing contest.  In addition, he also earned prize money from Arlington that boosts his return to over 14 times his original investment.

“I’m ready for the next handicapping contest series, and my approach will be the same,” Sellner assured.  It should be, because it works for him.

Ken Kieras was right back in action in the ‘last chance’ contest, although he had won the previous AHC contest just two weeks earlier.  You can read his story here.

“I knew I couldn’t win another Las Vegas trip during this current contest series, but you (this correspondent) had pointed out to me that I should still play for prize money, so I did,” explained Kieras.

“It only makes sense, since I’m going to be betting $100 anyway, so why not try to also get some prize money for a good day?” Kieras reasoned.  “Plus, I feel like I handicap and wager better when I’m in a contest.”  Sage observation.

“My day was concentrated on the end of the card,” Kieras revealed.  “I was down to $30 on one contest card so I decided to bet all of it on my pick in the 10th race (Kepi, 5-2) and she won, so I parlayed onto my horse in the 11th race (Blushing Martha, 2.20-1) and she won, so that’s how I got up to $336 and second place.”

For Don Fritz, the ‘last chance’ was his first chance.  On contest Saturday Fritz came to the Starting Gate Theater where I was about to begin my pre-race handicapping seminar and asked, “Scott, is this one of your handicapping tournament days?”

I answered in the affirmative and explained the challenge of trying to catch the leader in the cumulative standings while starting from zero, since Fritz would be, having never played in an AHC series contest.  But I encouraged him to play since it was free.

“I agree,” stated Fritz. “I am going to bet at least $100 on Arlington races today, so the contest is a free shot at some prize money, even if I can’t overtake the leader.”

For his effort Fritz finished third and doubled his bankroll, not bad for a first-timer.  “I gotta get into more of these,” declared Fritz.

To view the standings from the September 24 ‘last chance’ contest, click here

To read the success story of Andy Gardner, winner of the 2011 AHC series cumulative prize, click here.  

Your next chance to win a Las Vegas trip is this fall when Arlington will again offer a series of qualifier handicapping contests that will culminate in a final contest on December 10 where the top prize will be the trip to the HWS.  For more information, click here.

Good handicapping!


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