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Tom Bolek Wins 10/2/10 Arlington Handicapping Contest, and More

Arlington Park Communications | 10/11/2010 #


Bolek and the Specks, plus a Nilson, Make Up Top Five

Arlington didn't waste any time in launching the Fall, 2010, OTB Tour featuring handicapping seminars and contests.  The final seminar/contest of Arlington's live meet was September 25, and the very next Saturday the first seminar/contest of the Tour was held at Arlington's Lockport off-track facility located in Fat Sam's Bar & Grill.

Team Bolek/Nilson and Team Speck showed up, in more ways than one, accounting for all five of the top finish positions.  Interesting stories emanate from that rare event.

Each Tour contest is free-standing and prizes are paid to the top five finishers each week.  Here are the top finishers in last Saturday's contest, plus their winning final balances.

    1.  Tom Bolek             $ 746.10

    2.  Jan Nilson                479.80

     3.  Tom Bolek               318.00

     4.   Fred Speck, Jr.       254.00

     5.   Fred Speck, Sr.       247.00

For Tom Bolek it's been a long, but fun, second journey.  Tom won the Consistency Prize for the Spring, 2009, OTB Tour, and has been a regular player in the on- and off-track contests since their inception in 2008.  In fact, he finished third in the net cumulative standings for the recently-concluded, summer handicapping contest series.

"I love these contests," declared Bolek.  "I play in as many of them as my schedule permits.  And, I really enjoy the Tours, traveling to different OTB's, having a change of surroundings each Saturday.  I'll continue to play this fall, even though it's only for prize money, because I enjoy it and it helps my handicapping."

Bolek's climb to first and third in last Saturday's standings revolved, primarily, around the same horse and race.  "I was very interested in Percy Scherbenske's De Lica in the fifth race," Tom began.  "I had been in the paddock at Arlington when she made her first start and I was very impressed at her appearance.

"She had a troubled trip in that race so I made it a point to take note of her looks and the trouble she had, and to watch for her to come back," continued Bolek.  "When I was handicapping last Saturday's card ahead of time, I was happy to see her returning on a contest day.

"She opened at 9-2, which was a little disappointing, but her odds steadily rose to where she went off at 11-1," Bolek advised.  "She was in the back of the pack for the early part of the race, even into the stretch, and I was wondering if she was going to fire, but she went from ninth to first and paid $24.00 to win.  My $60 win ticket gave me my winning balance."

Who says these contests can't be won with a win bet.  Ask Tom Bolek about that, or Paul Hoffman who win-bets his way to Las Vegas every year, too.

Bolek played two entries last Saturday.  "On my other entry I made some exactas, working around De Lica," he revealed.  "In that assortment was a $2 exacta ticket, De Lica to Sweet Chi Town, that paid $111.40.  I also had a small pick three on that entry, both bets getting me into third."

For Jan Nilson it was almost déjà vu all over again.  "And it would have been if I hadn't miss-punched my ticket," he added.  Last year Nilson won his way to Las Vegas in the handicapping contest held at none other than the same Lockport parlor. 

Nilson and Bolek are handicapping buddies, and have been "for decades, I guess" opined Bolek.  "We like to meet at the OTB where the contest is being held.  It's a great common interest in our friendship."

Nilson, like Bolek, concentrated on De Lica last Saturday.  "I had a $50 win ticket on her myself, so I collected big, too, like Tom," explained Nilson.

"But I missed out due to a stupid mistake on my part, a mistake I didn't realize I had made until after the race," Nilson admitted.  "In addition to my win bet I also intended to hook De Lica up with my two secondary horses, Sweet Chi Town and Suspended Moon.  For some reason I put a wrong horse on my ticket in place of Sweet Chi Town, the second finisher, and missed hitting the $111 exacta on my $10 ticket.  That missed hit would have gotten me back to Las Vegas, through Lockport, again!

"But I'll be at Hodgkins next Saturday to try again," Nilson advised.  "My return trip to the Coast Casinos Horse Player World Series is out there.

"These handicapping contests are a great thing that Arlington is doing for its fans," stated Nilson.  "Everyone talks about winning the trip to Vegas as a benefit, and that's an obvious one, but I for one know that playing in these contests has helped my everyday handicapping and money management, not just my contest play. 

"To succeed in the contests one must not only handicap well, but one must also manage the bankroll well," Nilson advised.  "For example, I don't take flyers like I used to.  Now I conserve capital so that when I spot my picks I can concentrate on how best to wager on the race, and have the money to do so.  My everyday play has improved as a result."

That is a benefit of playing in Arlington's contests that is sometimes overlooked.

Team Speck made their presence known last Saturday by finishing fourth, fifth, sixth, and twelfth.  It was Fred Junior over Fred Senior by $7 in the top five.

Like Team Bolek/Nilson, Team Speck had one horse that made it for them.  "It was Buddy's Bid in the fourth race," Junior revealed.  "We saw where the Ryans (owner Tom and wife-trainer Chris) had sent Buddy's Bid out of town for his last race, and sent jockey Nick Meza along, and won the race.

"We figured that they must have discovered something about the horse that allowed them to improve him," Junior continued.  "We also knew he would be long odds because the connections don't have a following at the windows.

"I bet $10 to win on him and he paid $52.20 to win," Junior admitted.  "I didn't hit anything else all day, and I didn't bet enough on Buddy."  One of the two certainties in wagering.

Fred Junior finished second in last Spring's contest at the Rockford OTB.  He also flirted with success in the net cumulative standings.

But it was Fred Senior who made a serious run at the Consistency Prize last summer, ultimately ending in the eighth spot in the net cumulative standings while Junior finished a respectable twelfth.

Last Saturday Senior also went for Buddy's Bid.  "I'm more of a gimmick player than is my son," Senior began.  "I bet $5 to win on Buddy's Bid and I also had a $1 exacta with Cool Clue and that exacta paid $265 for $2.  I hit some small stuff elsewhere on the card but, like with Junior, Buddy's Bid accounted for my fifth-place finish.

"I love these contests," stated Team Speck, enthusiastically and in unison.  Senior added, "Sometimes my wife, Millicent, comes along and even enters the contest."

"And my girlfriend, Tclick hereammy, joins us when she can," Junior chimed in, "and she loves to play in the contests.  We might be a four-member Team, or just a one-member Team, on any one Saturday, but we'll be represented if possible.  We really enjoy making an outing of it by traveling to all the OTB's.  It's a great family affair."

You can win a trip to Las Vegas, courtesy of Arlington Park, to play in next February's Coast Casinos Horse Player World Series (HWS) where the first prize is estimated to be $250,000.  Would you like to parlay $50 into a $2,500 trip (that's 50 times your money!) where you could parlay again, into $250,000 (that's 500 times your money!)?  Your next chance is next Saturday, October 9, when Arlington's Fall, 2010, OTB Tour stops at the Hodgkins OTB located in the Salerno-Pincente Italian Ristorante. 

For a complete Fall contest schedule, click here.

For an overview of how the handicapping contest works, click here.

My FREE pre-race handicapping seminar starts approximately one hour before first post.  We will handicap the Hawthorne races with an analysis based on scratches and other late program changes, and with an emphasis on finding ‘contest' horses and races. 

Questions?  Send them to me at

We want to send you to Vegas, but you must get in it to win it!  See you Saturday, October 9, at Hodgkins!!  It just may be your turn to win!!!  You could be walking around lucky and not know it!!!!


M. Scott McMannis

 - Seminar and Contest Coordinator, Arlington Park

 - Expert Selections Handicapper,

 - Midwest Correspondent, The HorsePlayer Magazine

 - Owner/Publisher, Arlington and Hawthorne Trainer Patterns,

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