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.
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.