Monday, December 15, 2003 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . December 15, 2003 . . . Ron Hopkins of Nicholasville, Kentucky, caught a 31-1 long shot in the ninth race to take and hold first place in the Turfway Park Handicapping Blowout on Sunday, December 14. Hopkins’ victory earned him $10,000 and a berth in the 5th Annual Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship, set for January 23-24 at Bally’s Las Vegas.
“My home track is Keeneland,” he said as he accepted his check, “but my favorite track is Turfway.”
The second place prize of $3,000 and Turfway’s last remaining spot at the national championship went to John Boswell, 35, of Taylor Mill, Kentucky. His take on the day was $139.60.
Hopkins, 59, has been handicapping the races for 20 years and has entered DRF/NTRA NHC qualifiers the last four years. His highest finish before Sunday was sixth place at Keeneland in 2002. Describing his winning strategy, he said he did his homework with HTR (Handicapping Technology and Research) software and settled on a “no speed” plan. He topped all bettors with mythical winnings of $145.60.
In the ninth race, a $25,400 allowance contest, 31-1 shot Dollar a Dip stalked the pace off the rail and then came inside to run down the leaders and take first by half a length. His effort, under jockey Orlando Mojica, paid $65.80 to win and $19.80 to place. Hopkins’ win bet jumped him to the top of the list.
Boswell finished not only second but also seventh in this year’s qualifier at Turfway. He had finished as high as 10th in previous contests at Turfway, his home track. This will be his first trip to the nationals in Las Vegas.
Third place money, $1,400, went to Agyeman Garrett, Crescent Springs, Kentucky, who scored $131.40. Jim Keller of Florence earned $500 with $130.40, good enough for fourth place. Fifth place and $100 went to Brian Feldman, Mason, Ohio, whose wagers brought him $128.40.
Players paid $100 per entry and were allowed a maximum of three entries. They wagered a mythical $40 bankroll, putting down $2 to win and $2 to place on each of Turfway’s 10 live races.
In the fifth race, the filly Pull the Lever was declared a non-starter when stewards determined she had kicked her gate open a split-second before the field was sent off. Players who wagered on Pull the Lever were given the favorite, who finished sixth.