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Joe Russo, Stan Koper Top the 4/7/12 Spring Tour Handicapping Contest

Arlington Park Communications | 03/24/2014 #

Russo Confirmed for Vegas, Koper Wins Another Big Chance for Vegas Trip

When I blogged about last week’s Spring, 2012 Tour stop, I said it would be like a reunion since it was the first stop of the year.  I was right.  Let’s review who was there, and who was re-united.

There was John, Paul, George, and…Richard.

There was Michael, Scotty, Dennis, Steve, and John, along with Tony, Bill, and Ron…but no Horace.

There was Don and Phil…but no little Susie to wake up.

There was Rosie and the Original, Russ.

There was Team Zipp:  Rich, Rick, Tom, and Dan (all the way from Bettendorf, no less).

There was Derek and his Dominoes:  Artie, Aldo, and Rodney.

There was Paul and Art, but no Mrs. Robinson.

There was Tom, it’s not unusual, same goes for Laura.

There was Joe, and a William and a Bill, but no Billy and no Billy Joel.

There was Stan, but no Ollie.

There was Ed, but no Jackie.

There were three Franks, but only one a hot dog.

Lest we forget, there were the Bob’s, Dave, Andy, Henry, and Chris who are forming a new group called The Fungibles.

However, the real story is about one of the Joes and the one-and-only Stan.

Joe Russo ran away and hid, as we say about runaway winners of horse races.  He managed to turn an $8.10 investment into a $1,700 score that was unassailable.

"Thank you, thank you so much, Scotty!  Oh, man, you made my day,” exclaimed Joe Russo when informed of his first-place finish in last Saturday’s handicapping contest.  “This is just wonderful, what can I say,” he added.

How did he do it?  “One of my favorite bets is the superfecta, and I really like to bet maiden races because big prices lurk there,” Russo explained.  “That all came together for me at Gulfstream.

“There had been good payouts all day which caught my attention,” continued Russo.  “Late in the day the rains came and the track became sloppy, and there was a maiden race, the tenth, which caught my eye.  I like offspring of Danzig, Holy Bull, and Fusaichi Pegasus, so I decided to bet a 10-cent super.

“I like to spread as I go down, adding a horse or two in the lower positions,” revealed Russo.  “For example, I often go with three in the top spot and add one going down, so it’s 3 x 4 x 5 x 6.  That’s kind of what I did this time, and it really worked.”

Did it ever.  Russo hit a ‘signer” that pushed his total for the contest to over $1,761, well ahead of the second finisher.  For his score Russo wins a trip to Las Vegas to compete in the February, 2013, Coast Casino’s Horse Player World Series (HWS) where the top prize is estimated to be $300,000.

That kind of success isn’t new to Russo.  “Remember, Scotty, I won a contest at Hawthorne when you were running them there,” he recalled. 

“Then, when you went to Arlington, my group followed you there and we’ve played in most of your contests, at the track and at all of the parlors, no matter how far away,” Russo reminded.  “That’s been a good thing because I won two of your contests, one at McHenry and one at Waukegan, both sending me to the HWS.  Now I get to go again.  All I can say is, thank you and thank Arlington for making it all possible.”

Stan Koper is just as excited as Russo.  Even though his second prize doesn’t grant him a trip to Las Vegas, it gives him a $1,000 entry into the Twin Spires online contest in November which will award 20 trips to the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship and 80 trips to the HWS.

“Are you kidding me?” asked Koper, not once but three times in rapid succession.  “I had no idea I was in contention with my total.  Are you sure you aren’t playing some kind of late April Fools joke on me?”

No joke, no kidding.

Why was Koper resigned to being out of contention?  “Because midway through the afternoon Aldo Baricevic told me he had $900 on his card,” Koper explained.  “Then I heard Joe hit for $1,700 and I figured my $248 wasn’t going to get me anything, so I stopped playing because I wanted to hold onto my  profit for the day. 

“Actually, Aldo probably did me a favor,” Koper revealed.  “If I had thought I was still in contention for second, I would have kept betting and maybe lost, and run my total down.  As it is, it worked out for the best.”

How did Koper get his total?  “Nothing exciting,” he admitted.  “I cashed a bet on Gemologist in the Wood Memorial, and I bet on a couple of races you talked about in your pre-race handicapping seminar.  I always listen to your analysis and take it into consideration.”

Like Russo, Koper is grateful.  “As you know, I’ve been much more of a harness guy all my life,” he explained.  “I actually drove and trained standardbreds some, so I feel I know harness racing better than Thoroughbred racing.  But I really enjoy traveling around to different parlors and changing my surroundings, and meeting up with all the friends I’ve made.  And I really value your (this correspondent’s) insights in your seminar, plus you are available to talk with all afternoon.  Arlington is doing a great thing for the fans with these contests.”

What now for Russo and Koper?  Both will continue to play in the Spring Tour contests.  “I can’t win the top prize again this spring, but I can win the other prizes,” explained Russo.  “Plus, I enjoy the traveling and the camaraderie, and I handicap better when I’m in a contest.”

Koper will continue to gun for the top prize.  “I’m really grateful for the entry into the Twin Spires contest,” said Koper.  “I won my way to the HWS by winning one of your contests a couple of years ago, and I can't wait to get back there.  I would love to nail down that top prize of a trip to the HWS this spring, but if I don't, I have the second chance come November.”

Finishing third and fourth were the aforementioned Aldo Baricevic and Dan Zipp, respectively.  It is worth noting that Dan Zipp is from the Quad Cities, Bettendorf, Iowa, to be specific.  Each won a stipend to boost their profit for the day and essentially stake them into the next contest.

For the final standings from last Saturday’s contest, click here.

To learn more about the handicapping seminars and contests you can click on the links below to be taken to stories on my blog at 

Arlington Park's Trackside Parlor Tour Returns For 2012 With Handicapping Seminars, Contests

Is the Handicapping Contest Second Prize Better Than The First?

Your next chance to experience success like Joe Russo and Stan Koper comes this Saturday, April 14, when the Spring Tour goes to McHenry to Arlington’s Trackside parlor located in Nicolino’s Fine Italian Restaurant.  For a map, driving directions, and more click here then scroll down and click on Trackside McHenry. 

We want to send you to Las Vegas but you can’t win it unless you get in it!  See you in McHenry.


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,
  •    Arlington Trainer Patterns, and
  •    Hawthorne Trainer Patterns