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Hilton Gordon Wins First 2012 AHC Handicapping Contest

Arlington Park Communications | 03/24/2014 #

First-Starter Takes First, Paul Hoffman and Robert Daprato Round Out the Top Three

 I hear it all the time when I ask fans to play in Arlington’s free handicapping contests:  “Why should I?  Those guys are experienced in contest play.  I can’t compete successfully against them.”

“If that’s true,” I ask, “then why do so many first starters win?” 

The lesson was brought home again last Saturday when first-time player Hilton “Doc” Gordon finished first in the inaugural handicapping contest of this summer’s Arlington Handicapping Challenge (AHC) series.

Gordon is a regular race fan and, in fact, is a member of a successful horse ownership partnership.  Last week he decided to participate in the first of Arlington’s eight AHC contests.

“I talked to you (this correspondent) about it and asked whether a win bettor stands a chance in these contests,” began Gordon.  “You told me about Paul Hoffman and the success he has had as a win bettor, so I decided to participate.  Of all things, I finish in front of him!”

To flesh out the anomaly, Hoffman has earned his way to Las Vegas to four capstone tournaments.  He has done so three times by winning qualifying contests with win bets, and once with an exacta bet.  He is a regular Arlington handicapping contest participant.

Gordon followed the Hoffman pattern, so to speak.  “The key was input from my son, Jason,” he offered. 

“He told me of a horse on his “horses to watch” list that had a big trip note from his previous race at Churchill.  Jason’s insight intrigued me enough to watch the race replay.     

“I handicapped the horse’s upcoming Saturday race and saw where he was a contender, allowing for his trouble in his previous race, so I zeroed in,” Gordon continued.  “I made a $100 win bet on him and he won.

“I then parlayed those winnings onto a Brian Williamson horse and won again, enough to give me my winning total of $527.00,” Gordon concluded. 

His first-place finish earns Gordon a paid entry, worth $1,000, into the November 24 Twin Spires On-Line Handicapping Championship (TSOHC).  Should he finish in the top 20 in the TSOHC, Gordon will win a paid trip to Las Vegas to compete in the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC).  Should he finish in the next 80 he will be going to the Coast Casinos Horseplayer World Series (HWS).  The national tourneys offer top prizes of approximately $750,000 and $300,000, respectively.

Our second- and third-place finishers from last Saturday still can earn their way into the TSOHC.  Second-finisher Paul Hoffman earns a berth into the next monthly Twin Spires contest which feeds into the TSOHC, and third-finisher Robert Daprato will compete in a weekly Twin Spires contest to keep his chances of a TSOHC berth alive.

For Hoffman, it’s a familiar story.  “Yes, I’m primarily a win bettor,” explained Hoffman.  “I sometimes venture out, so to speak, and make exacta bets. 

“Last Saturday I accumulated my total with a $67 exacta bet,” revealed Hoffman.  “I took Kepi, the obvious top contender and favorite, over the lone speed, Delightful Daisy.  The strategy worked for an $11 exacta.  That's the bulk of my $327.50 final bankroll.    

“I’m pleased to finish second,” concluded Hoffman.  “You can be certain I’ll be in every Arlington handicapping contest because first, I’ve learned I’m more successful with my handicapping and betting by playing in contests, and second, I really want to get back to Las Vegas to play in the two big tournaments. 

“Last year I earned my way to both the NHC and the HWS, and playing in one followed a week later by the other was an experience that far eclipses just playing in one,” Hoffman declared.  “Going to Las Vegas again for two weeks in the winter to play in both national handicapping tournaments is my goal.”

Robert Daprato entered last Saturday’s contest to join a friend and racing buddy, Steve Behnke.  “Steve said he wanted to enter your tournament,” began Daprato.  “He usually does when his Saturday’s at Arlington coincide with a contest.

“So I decided to get involved, too,” Daprato continued.  “I’ve only played in the contests a couple of times in the past, but I guess this was my time to get lucky.

“My hit that accounted for most of my total was a $5, three-horse, exacta box that worked,” concluded Daprato.  “It paid over $100 for $2, so $5 turned into over $300.”

To view the standings from last Saturday’s handicapping contest, click here.

For more information on the 2012 AHC Summer Series of free handicapping seminars and contests, click here and scroll down to the AHC story.

Your next chance to partake of a free handicapping seminar and contest is this coming Saturday, June 2, when we take the AHC on the road to Arlington’s new betting parlor, Trackside Orland Hills, located in Sam’s Triple Crown.  For more information on the new parlor, including a map and directions, click here. 

Your next chance to join us on-track is Saturday, June 23, in the Starting Gate Theater where we start with a free handicapping seminar at noon and offer another three chances to win you way to Las Vegas.

We want to send you to Las Vegas but you can’t win it unless you get in it! See you in your next contest!


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,
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