Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge Seeks Sponsors

Plans are underway for the 2016 Hambletonian Society Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge being run by HANA Harness.  As such, HANA Harness is seeking financial sponsorship from various facets of the standardbred industry to build up the prize fund which goes to standardbred rescues.  Whether a racetrack, horseman association, breeder, racing stable, or a supplier to the industry, HANA Harness welcomes your participation.

The Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge's goal is to promote the Grand Circuit as well as support standardbred rescues.  All funds pledged to the competition are donated to the standardbred rescues chosen by the handicappers.  Canadian sponsors will be given the right to donate 2016 funds to the standardbred rescues of their choice in honor of the winning handicapper.  Since the contest began, over $12,000 has been donated to standardbred rescues.

Sponsorship levels are available from $500 to as low as $100 with various benefits.  If interested in additional information, contact allan@hanaweb.org


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Hinckley Runs Off with 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Crown

by Rusty Nash for HANA Harness

December 1, 2015 – The marathon we lovingly call the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge has concluded with Sally Hinckley running away with the title, finishing 570 points ahead of her nearest competitor.  We graciously thank the Bellino Stables, DRF Harness, Green Acquisition Corporation, Hambletonian Society, Isle of Capri Pompano Park, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs for being Gold Sponsors of this event.

This year’s Grand Circuit journey started on April 24th at The Meadows and concluded Monday November 30th at Dover Downs.  It was fitting that Wiggle It Jiggleit won the finale in the same dominating way that Sally Hinckley dominated the HANA tour!  Once they were out of the gate and settled down they both moved to the front and were never headed again.

The HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge was no pushover of a race.  The field consisted of many of the top handicappers and movers and shakers in the harness racing world.  Sally’s credentials are very strong as she is a well-known horsewoman from Maine.  She is a member and the Secretary of the Maine Harness Racing Promotional Board.  Many of you have seen her work without realizing it.  Sally out started as Lady Lewiston in the Lewiston Sun Journal.  Sally has also been the regular line maker at Scarborough Downs for quite some time.  More importantly, for our cause, are Armbro Brando and Stelerbraration.  Both of these retired gladiators make their forever home with Sally and her family.  Thank you Sally!

When contacted about her win Sally was very gracious and first wanted to thank contest coordinator Allan Schott and the whole group of top North American Handicappers who made the whole event so much fun. 

When asked about her strategy in the new format she talked about trying get a high win rate for the multiplier while also looking for a good longshot or two each week.  Sally explained how it clicked for her.  “While stuck in the middle of pack, my choice of Annedrovette at 36-1 propelled me to a top position.  Then began a strategy of defense. Trying to minimize other players gain by having many of the same picks, but mostly I lived by the old adage that ‘the race isn't always to the swiftest but that's the way to bet it.’ I also got on some great bandwagons, for instance Divine Caroline.  I was very glad to find the wire because any of the other players could have a huge night at any time!”

Regarding our cause, Sally went on to say, “All the rescue groups are worthy and it is a special pleasure to bring the win home to the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals, Their efforts help the abused and neglected horses who have been seized by the state to find safety and comfort at their facility. Many thanks to the generous sponsors, Allan Schott for his work and expertise in running this contest the past seven months and my fellow handicappers who are now my friends.”

For winning the handicapping challenge, Hinckley’s selected rescue, the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals, an organization dedicated to equine welfare, will receive $2,950 for use towards their Standardbred program thanks to all our sponsors the Bellino Stables, DRF Harness, Green Acquisition Corporation, Hambletonian Society, Harness Racing Update, Isle of Capri at Pompano Park, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Scioto Downs, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs.  In addition to this donation, $500 will be donated to Canadian rescues by our Canadian partners, Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park and Western Fair Raceway.  A $200 donation was made by an anonymous sponsor.

Second place finisher, Dennis O’Hara, will see his rescue, Standardbred Retirement Foundation receive a donation of $1,575.  Third place finisher Anne Stepien will see her rescue, Heading for Home  earn approximately $675 for her efforts.


Standings as of November 30, 2015 - Leg 65 Final Standings
Pos
Handicapper
Total Points
Prior Week
Points Earned
This Week
Overall
Total Points
Position
Last
Week
Points
Back
1st
Sally Hinckley
5,048.60
12.70
5,061.30
1st
            -  
2nd
Dennis O'Hara
4,481.00
10.10
4,491.10
2nd
      570.20
3rd
Anne Stepien
4,343.30
4.30
4,347.60
3rd
      713.70
4th
Gordon Waterstone
4,238.70
10.10
4,248.80
4th
      812.50
5th
Mark McKelvie
4,228.80
0.00
4,228.80
5th
      832.50
6th
Josi Verlingieri
4,107.50
4.30
4,111.80
6th
      949.50
7th
Rusty Nash
3,874.50
5.80
3,880.30
7th
   1,181.00
8th
Derick Giwner
3,770.00
10.10
3,780.10
9th
   1,281.20
9th
Bob Zanakis
3,753.10
0.00
3,753.10
8th
   1,308.20
10th
Earl Paulson
3,658.20
8.40
3,666.60
10th
   1,394.70
11th
Bryan Owen
3,553.20
0.00
3,553.20
11th
   1,508.10
12th
Mark Dezii
3,408.90
3.00
3,411.90
12th
   1,649.40
13th
Jay Hochstetler
3,390.40
0.00
3,390.40
13th
   1,670.90
14th
Ray Garnett
3,214.90
5.80
3,220.70
14th
   1,840.60
15th
Garnet Barnsdale
2,690.50
0.00
2,690.50
15th
   2,370.80
16th
Michael Carter
2,676.90
3.00
2,679.90
16th
   2,381.40
17th
Ray Cotolo
2,128.70
4.30
2,133.00
17th
   2,928.30
18th
Brandon Valvo
1,936.00
4.30
1,940.30
18th
   3,121.00
19th
Mark Deutsch
1,197.10
0.00
1,197.10
19th
   3,864.20


HANA Harness thanks all of our generous sponsors who allow this handicapping contest to be an annual event since 2012.  Plans are already underway for next year’s competition.  Anyone connected with the Standardbred industry who may be interested in sponsorship of next year’s event may contact allan@hanaweb.org for information.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Hinckley Paces Away From the Field

by Rusty Nash for HANA Harness

November 24, 2015 – The final opportunity for major movement in the standings occurred last week in the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge presented by the Bellino Stables, DRF Harness, Green Acquisition Corporation, Hambletonian Society, Isle of Capri Pompano Park, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs. 

The team was tasked with four races from The New Meadowlands on Friday and six on Saturday.  Friday evening saw three favorites and a single winner at 4-1 in Double Exposure.  That meant another low scoring night and little movement. 

Anne Stepien and Gordon Waterstone each tabbed three of four races for 93 points each.  Neither had a tie breaker in the money so Friday night was declared a dead heat.  Four handicappers were able to come up with Double Exposure.  They were Earl Paulson, JoniJosi Verlingieri, Derick Giwner and Mark Dezii.  Derick Giwner had the best tiebreaker and finished the night with 64 points while Mark Dezii had 62.  There were some longshots that got close.  Bobby Zanakis had both Haughty and Blue Moon Stride who both finished second at big prices.  It could have been an exciting night had the chalk not been so strong again.

Saturday night was the last time the handicappers had an opportunity to land a big multiplier as there were six races on tap.  Four races again featured low price winners.  A dead took away a nice opportunity when the favorite chopped at 7-1 price down to 2-1.  Two players were able to string together five winners.  Mark Dezii has been red hot lately and simply crushed the field when he landed Bettor’s Edge at $40.  With four of the other five other winners he totaled an impressive 496 points for the night!  Contest leader Sally Hinckley landed the first five winners for a total of 213 points. 

For the week Mark Dezii earned top honors with 524 total points.  Sally Hinckley put a virtual lock on the win by scoring 262 points.  Most of the team went in search of prices and were disappointed.  Completing our weekly pentafecta were Earl Paulson (134), Anne Stepien (130) and Gordon Waterstone (123).

Sally Hinckley padded her lead by more than 200 points extending it to an unprecedented 567.  The real competition next week will be for some of the smaller prizes for our very deserving horse rescues.  Dennis O’Hara leads in the race for “Best of the Rest” by 137 points over Anne Stepien, 242 over Gordon Waterstone and 252 over Mark McKelvie.


PosHandicapperTotal Points
Prior Week
Points Earned
This Week
Overall
Total Points
Position
Last
Week
Points
Back

1stSally Hinckley4,785.80262.805,048.601st            -   
2ndDennis O'Hara 4,431.8049.204,481.002nd      567.60 
3rdAnne Stepien4,212.70130.604,343.304th      705.30 
4thGordon Waterstone4,115.70123.004,238.706th      809.90 
5thMark McKelvie4,179.8049.004,228.805th      819.80 
6thJosi Verlingieri4,045.5062.004,107.503rd      941.10 
7thRusty Nash3,865.708.803,874.507th   1,174.10 
8thDerick Giwner3,672.2097.803,770.009th   1,278.60 
9thBob Zanakis3,673.1080.003,753.108th   1,295.50 
10thEarl Paulson3,524.00134.203,658.2011th   1,390.40 
11thBryan Owen3,542.0011.203,553.2010th   1,495.40 
12thMark Dezii2,884.70524.203,408.9014th   1,639.70 
13thJay Hochstetler 3,300.2090.203,390.4012th   1,658.20 
14thRay Garnett3,178.3036.603,214.9013th   1,833.70 
15thGarnet Barnsdale2,690.500.002,690.5015th   2,358.10 
16thMichael Carter 2,676.900.002,676.9016th   2,371.70 
17thRay Cotolo2,128.700.002,128.7017th   2,919.90 
18thBrandon Valvo1,886.2049.801,936.0019th   3,112.60 
19thMark Deutsch1,197.100.001,197.1018th   3,851.50 


The HANA handicappers will be back in action for the final time this year with The Courageous Lady and The Progress Pace.  We will formally crown our champion and runners up and the winning horse rescues.  For everyone here at HANA Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge we wish you all a great Thanksgiving holiday.