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Mike Siano Wins 12/11/10 Handicapping Contest at Trackside Arlington Park

Arlington Park Communications | 05/03/2011 #

Joe Dutcher, Bob Lowe, Jim Luikaart, Ed Hanna Round Out Trackside AP Five

Longtime Net Cumulative Leader Paul Georgian Wins Fall, 2010, Consistency Prize

It was a handicapping contest with extra meaning.  On December 11, contestants assembled at Trackside Arlington Park for the final contest of the Fall, 2010, OTB Tour handicapping contest/seminar series.  

The top five finishers would win the usual prize money awarded for each free-standing handicapping contest.  However, the contest took on extra importance because it was the last chance for players to add to their cumulative total for the fall series in pursuit of the consistency prize.

The consistency prize is awarded to the player who accumulates the highest total of money won over the course of a contest series, in this case the Fall, 2010, Tour series, without winning a weekly contest.  Thus, the prize is awarded to the net cumulative standings leader.  

Paul Georgian made his move early in the series.  In the second fall contest, held at Arlington’s Hodgkins off-track betting facility on October 9, Georgian finished second with a total of $992.60.  To read how he did it, click here to go to my blog on the Arlington web site and see the three stories at the top of the page which are about that contest. 

From there Georgian crawled.  “My strategy was to play conservatively with a goal of adding maybe a $100 or so each Saturday to my cumulative total,” he began.  Georgian aimed to build his total to maybe $1,500-2,000. 

“I figured that was preferable to going all out each Saturday in an attempt to score big and put myself out of reach,” Georgian added.  “One certainly would think I could hit enough place and show bets along the way to build my total, but that sure backfired.”

Well, it did and it didn’t.  True, Georgian only added about $90 to his total over the next seven contests, but his final total was still good enough to finish first in the net cumulative standings and earn him an entry into the February, 2011, Coast Casinos Horse Player World Series to be held at The Orleans in Las Vegas.

As another contestant, who was chasing Georgian for the consistency prize, stated with a chuckle, “Paul was a stationary target and I still couldn’t catch him!”

Mike Siano, while not the player to coin the assessment about Georgian’s snail-like progression, did make a big late run with a stellar performance in the December 11 contest, despite the miserable muddy-sloppy track conditions of Hawthorne’s sand surface.

“I decided to go for it with trifectas,” Siano began.  “It wasn’t until the 5th race that I hit big.

“I used a bunch of horses, including (jockey) Tommy Molina’s Hammer Jammer who got up for second at 58-1,” continued  Siano.  “Tommy Molina is one of my favorite jockeys.  I’m a gimmick bettor and I’ve noticed how often he slips in at long odds.

“That tri paid $3,800 for $2 and I had a 50-cent ticket, so there’s $950 for my account,” Siano stated.    

“Now, do you want to hear the bad news?” Siano offered.  “All day long I’m making 50-cent trifecta tickets and hitting the ‘repeat’ button so I have two 50-cent tickets each race.  But I didn’t do that for the 5th race!

“I don’t know why,” lamented Siano.  “I simply forgot, I guess.”  What a time for a memory lapse.  “If I would have followed through with a second ticket I would have collected $1,900 and won the consistency prize.  Instead I finished second in the net cumulative standings.”

Siano is one of the most-dedicated Arlington handicapping contest players.  He tours to every Arlington OTB parlor and, of course, also plays in Arlington’s live meet contests. 

“I’ve had some big days when playing in these contests, and next year I’m going to play in as many of them as I can to win one and earn my way to Vegas,” Siano assured.  Don’t bet against him.

“In fact, I’ll be experiencing withdrawal from now until the Spring contests begin,” Siano concluded, with a laugh.

The December 11 contest paid out the usual Fall, 2010, Tour prize money to the top five finishers.  Those five and their final total for the day are:

                                                                     1.  Mike Siano              $ 908.35

                                                                     2.  Joe Dutcher                518.15

                                                                     3.  Robert Lowe              136.00

                                                                     4.  Jim Luikaart               107.70

                                                                     5.  Ed Hanna                     76.90         

Joe Dutcher jests that he picks horses by name, color, and alliteration.  “If it’s Tuesday and the horse’s name starts with a ‘T’ and the color of the silks is Teal, that’s my pick:  T-T-T.”  I don’t believe that, either.

“Actually, I had a better day with my private betting,” Dutcher revealed, “thanks largely to Surely Irish, winner of the third race.

“I always attend your (this correspondent’s) pre-race seminars because I always get a little more educated about handicapping and I learn things about today’s horses that I wouldn’t know if I just depended on the past performances,” Dutcher expanded.  “In the case of Surely Irish, you explained how the trainer had managed the horse for his recent races and why you made him the top contender. 

“I liked Surely Irish too, so your explanation encouraged me to single him in the early pick four, and that allowed me to spread more in the other three races,” Dutcher explained.  “I had that pick four, and it paid $710 for $2.

“But, like I said, that was my private betting,” Dutcher reminded, “but that score still built my confidence for later and I had the superfecta in the 8th race.  That gave me $600 and constituted the bulk of my contest account for the day, placing me second for the day and third in the cumulative standings.  Now I can’t wait for the Spring Tour.”  

Robert Lowe is another devotee that makes almost all Arlington handicapping contests.  He has been to the national tournament before, and, like every other contest player that has been to the big dance, can’t wait to get back there.

“I wasn’t able to get much traction on the 11th,” Lowe admitted.  “My major hit was the exacta in the fifth race which gave me $180.

“From that point I got more aggressive because I knew what I had to do to catch Paul (Georgian),” Lowe continued.  “But as I said, I just couldn’t hit what I needed.

“But that’s OK, I understand the ups and downs of this pursuit and I accept it,” Lowe observed.  “I’ll be at most of the contests next year, and my turn will come again.  Along the way, I’ll enjoy myself.” 

Jim Luikaart has frequently had his name pop up in the top five lately.  The results of the December 11 contest shows him there again.

“It was nothing exceptional,” Luikaart offered.  “I made several bets during the day and didn’t hit on either contest card.

“When it came down to the last race, I liked a Frank Kirby longshot, R T’s Black Cat,” Luikaart continued.  “He went off at 30-1 and finished second.  I bet my last $20 on him, $10 to win and place, and he paid $21 to place.  If the race had been a half-furlong longer, he would have won, but horseplayers frequently think that about their pick.  

“I guess I should have had the exacta,” Luikaart lamented.  “Kirby’s other horse, Jade Man (9-2), won and the trainer exacta paid almost $380.  Oh, well.

“There’s always next year, and I’ll be in there, trying to win my way to Vegas” Luikaart concluded.

Ed Hanna is another whose name has been seen frequently in the top five of late.  In fact, he did so well in the last four weeks of the contest series that he finished third in the net cumulative standings. 

“Here’s the corker,” Hanna began.  “My schedule didn’t allow me to play in the early fall contests, I could only play in the last four.”  If Hanna had played in all the contests, one must believe he would have been one of the favorites to win a Vegas trip for the HWS.

“I started off good in the last contest,” offered Hanna.  “I hit the first race exacta so I had $180 to work with.  I felt good about my chances of making enough to catch Paul (Georgian).

“I did make a couple of hits but I also made some zigs when I should have zagged,” Hanna revealed.  “Then I collected on the races 6-7-8 pick three and that pushed me up to $220 to work with. 

“I knew what I had to do to catch Paul (Georgian) and I felt I was in striking distance,” Hanna continued.  “So, I made some big bets but couldn’t hit, and fell back. 

“That’s OK, that’s the way things go, and I’m still pleased with what I did,” Hanna assessed.  “I am already making plans to play in most, if not all, of the spring contests.” 

You, too, should be making the same plans.  We at Arlington are already working on our 2011 handicapping seminar/contest schedule and will announce the spring schedule after the first of the year.  Check back here, on my blog, for that announcement.

For an overview of how the fall handicapping contests worked, click here.

Questions?  Send them to me at  

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We want to send you to Vegas, but you must get in it to win it!  See you next Spring!!  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, and The McMannis Speed & Trip Service Weekly Newsletter