Monmouth Park posted the results of this past Saturday's Simulcast Series Challenge (SSC) Championship, won by Christos Apostolos of Lowell, MA in interesting fashion.
First, many congratulations to the winner! In short, it appears that Apostolos sat at or near the top of the leaderboard after turning his $100 bankroll into $1,200 going into the final race, having hit 9-of-11 wagers (not specified in the press release whether win, place or show) on the afternoon, before taking the plunge with a $1,000 place wager on less than even money favorite Person of Interest in the Aqueduct nightcap. The horse won and paid $3.10 to place, giving Christos the win with a $1,756 bankroll to secure one of two berths to the January 2012 NHC Tour Championship in Las Vegas, NV.
Paul Zerbst of Teaneck finished second with a $1,414 bankroll. Congratulations to both for advancing!
It's hard to argue with success, and I suppose if I had a $1,000 decision to make, I might side with a Ramon Dominguez-Richard Dutrow connection at Aqueduct, but the proposition was rather dicey, in my view, having seen two contestants in SSC qualifiers hit on 9-to-1 and 9-to-2 winners in the final contest race to finish first and second, respectively, in the January and March play-ins. (I guess that's why I failed to make it to the tournament finals.)
Considering the way the day went, however, and having watched half of Saturday's contest card...and now seeing that only two of the 40 contest players netted a $1,000+ bankroll (the fifth-place finisher had only $660), my assertion to Red Rock or Bust that it would likely take much success with numerous chalk plays might have been accurate, considering the winner hitting on 82% of his contest plays.
The breakdown of winning horses in the 34-race contest card (players had to make at least 10 bets to qualify to win SSC) comprised of Aqueduct, Gulfstream and Tampa shows that a whopping 23 winners paid out $9.40 or less on a $2 win wager, while there were 8 others paying between a not-so-long $12.40 and $19.40, and three "bomber" payouts of $29.60, $83.40 and $128.50.
Popping in on Red Rock or Bust on Saturday to wish him luck, it seemed that no one picked the $128.50 winner (Game Token) in the 5th at Aqueduct. I was unable to stick around for long, but in hindsight would have figured that someone down to their final $20-$40 would have hit on 40-to-1 winner Storm Warnings in the final race at Gulfstream or 14-to-1 Mister Dish in the second-to-last from Tampa. Those are usually the kinds of desperation wagers that create chaos late in handicapping contest cards and bring the pot of gold to a contest player, but it is clear the outcome on Saturday was far different, leaning toward the chalk.
If anyone happens to know how I can contact Christos or Paul to discuss Saturday's tournament, please pass along their information, as I would like to pick their brains regarding their contest strategy and success.