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Newcomer Thunander Takes Spring 2011 Handicapping Contest Finals
Crunches Seventh Race Every Which Way to Win
If anyone says that you need to be a pro to win one of Arlington Park’s handicapping contests, just say no. Jack Thunander took his chances as a contest newbie, and it paid off, big time, and may pay off again, even bigger, next February.
This spring (it is still spring, isn’t it?) Arlington Park held a four-Saturday series of qualifying handicapping contests at each of 10 OTB parlors. The winner from each OTB, each Saturday, qualified to play in the series finals held last Saturday, May 14.
“I had never played in a handicapping contest before,” Thunander began, “but when the first one this spring was offered at my “home” OTB in McHenry, I decided to get in.” Handicapping contests have been offered at Arlington OTB’s in prior years, but it took until this spring for Thunander to take his chances. He’s glad he did.
“I didn’t have any success at all in the first three Saturday contests, but I did really well in the fourth and final qualifier,” explained Thunander. “I not only won for my parlor, but I was best of the 10 parlor winners that Saturday so I earned a bonus in addition to my entry in the finals.”
Thunander’s success didn’t stop there. He crunched the seventh race, earning enough to finish first in the finals and win the coveted trip to Las Vegas next February to play in the Coast Casinos Horseplayer World Series (HWS) where the top prize is estimated to be $300,000.
“It was quite a bonanza,” Thunander admitted. “I had the 10-cent super ($219), the 50-cent tri ($333), the daily double ending in that race ($51), and the pick three ending in that race ($176). I missed the exacta, though.
“I should have stopped right there so my total would be higher,” Thunander reflected, “but I’m really pleased as is.” Rightfully so. Any time one can turn a $50 beginning bankroll into over $500, he should be thrilled.
Thunander did more. He also won cash ($175) but more important, his trip to Las Vegas for the HWS makes his total prize package over $2,000. That’s in addition to the $500 he won last Saturday with his betting, on a $50 investment. This will be Thunander’s first trip to Las Vegas to play in a national tournament.
“He deserves it,” graciously stated runner-up Mike Rusovick, of Thunander’s success. “I thought my total of $414 would be enough to win it, but it was only good for second. I’m not complaining, though – any time I can make eight times over on my money, I’m happy. Not satisfied, but happy.”
Rusovick isn’t satisfied because he has won his way to the HWS for the last two years. “It’s a blast, to go out there and play in that tournament,” he added. “I’m entering every Arlington contest this summer in an attempt to win my way back there. Then I’ll be satisfied with my performance.”
Big Mike, as he’s known by his circle of friends, plunged right in. “I had $45 invested in the first race,” he explained. “One of my $5 doubles hit to more than double my bankroll.
“I then made a couple of show bets along the way and picked up a little more money, “continued Rusovick. “My best score was the fifth race where I bet Peytonville ($15.80) to win.
“In the sixth race I bet Summer Savory ($6) to win and used him as a key in doubles, which I also hit, bringing my total to over $400,” concluded Rusovick.
Derek Strom also wants to get back to Las Vegas. “Last year I won your contest at the South Elgin OTB to earn my way to last February’s HWS,” Strom reminded. “It was my first time there and it was a great experience. I hooked up with several of the Arlington winners and we all sat together, which is the way to do it. I’m really anxious to go again.”
Strom’s main race was the seventh. “I had Summer Savory to win,” he explained, “plus I had the exacta which paid $31.40 for $2, and I had it for $5.
“I came back in the last race with a win bet on Costilla Range ($8) which boosted my bankroll enough to finish in third place,” Strom concluded.
You can view the complete final standings from May 14 on arlingtonpark.com by clicking here.
Looking ahead, our summer series of handicapping seminars and contests begin on May 28. For the summer series we will award seven more trips to Las Vegas for the 2012 World Series. Details will be forthcoming here on my blog. In the meantime, put these dates for the summer handicapping contests on your calendar and make plans to attend: May 28, June 11, July 9, July 23, August 20, September 10, and September 24.
M. Scott McMannis
Host, Arlington Handicapping Seminars/Contests
Expert Selections Handicapper, Arlington Web Site and Program
Midwest Correspondent, HorsePlayer Magazine