CANADIAN WINS NATIONALS HORSEPLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
Chris Littlemore, a retired autoworker from Whitby, Ontario, Canada, was never seriously threatened throughout the Semifinals and the Final Table, cruising to an $800,000 first-place prize and an Eclipse Award as Horseplayer of the Year at this weekend’s 19th NTRA National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) Presented by Racetrack Television Network, STATS Race Lens™ and Treasure Island Las Vegas. The NHC had a record field size of 702 entries (568 individual players, 134 of whom held the maximum two entries) and offered record overall cash and prizes totaling $2,974,700.
It’s the second consecutive NHC victory by a Canadian from the Toronto area, following a similarly dominant performance by Ray Arsenault of Thornhill, Ontario, last year.
For his winning effort, Littlemore also receives a berth into next year’s NHC finals, an entry to the Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship, an entry to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, and an Annual Subscription to STATS Race Lens™, with access to the most in-depth statistical database in racing for testing theories and angles, as well as past performances, replays, predictive modeling, and more.
The 58-year-old Littlemore (b. January 7, 1960) amassed a winning score of $348.30 over the three-day tournament from 53 mythical $2 Win and Place bets – 18 each on Friday and Saturday, 10 in Sunday morning’s Semifinal round and seven in the dramatic Final Table contest exclusive to the overall top 10.
“I didn’t feel that confident,” Littlemore said of entering Day 3 as the leader. “I didn’t like the card that well; I didn’t like the races. I got lucky that a lot of chalk came in and kept me on top. I kept my distance. As the day wore on, I wasn’t having a good day, so I just kept picking away, picking away. I was fortunate enough that no big long shots came in to overtake me, and I picked the right horse in the last and it got me through.”
Littlemore first assumed the lead Saturday mid-afternoon when he landed an 18-1 winner, Holiday’s Angels, in the seventh at Oaklawn Park, followed later by a 12-1 shot, Dano’s Dream, in the eighth at Golden Gate Fields. At the end of Day 1 Littlemore was in 11th place with a bankroll of $124.60.
“My goal the first day was to try to get to $100,” he said. “I got $125. That was a good day. You have to have two pretty good days here to get to the money (top 10 percent). So when you have a good day, you’re just trying to get to the money. That’s my mindset.”
This was the fifth NHC appearance for Littlemore, who had a single entry, earned as one of the top 150 NHC Tour finishers (67th). His previous best NHC finish was 29th in his first attempt, 2014. The father of two has one daughter currently in Australia on a student exchange program.
“It’s life-changing for me,” Littlemore said. “I’m paying for their education now, and that’s great. It’s ironic. I’ve got a buddy I retired with from work. He won $1 million two weeks ago on the lottery in Canada. For me to do this two or three weeks after that is astonishing, really. It’s nuts.”
Littlemore is now eligible for the $3 million NHC-BCBC Rolling Double bonus should he go on to win the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) this November.
This was the first time multiple women made it to the Final Table. Only Lynn McGuire (2014), sister of contest veteran Mark McGuire, had made it in four previous years since the Final Table format was introduced.
Following a super Saturday in which Alberta-owned HEART TO HEART, bred in Ontario by Albertan Darrel Bauder, won his first Grade 1 and Ontario bred FLAMEAWAY won some Kentucky Derby points in the Sam F Davis win (read more on yesterday’s post), more Canucks had success on the weekend.
BORN IN A BREEZE scored a 14 to 1 upset in the $30,000 Turf Paradise Handicap for Alberta’s TOM RYCROFT who owns and trains the 6-year-old Ontario bred.
A sturdy 6-year-old horse by Leonnatus Anteas – Trufflesfromheaven by You and I, Born in a Breeze came between horses, was bumped around but was up to win the 1 1/16 mile turf race by a head in 1:41.41. He received an 80 Beyer Figure according to Daily racing Form.
Ismael Mosquiera, former Alberta jockey who moved his tack to Woodbine last year, rode Born in a Breeze to victory.
It was the 2nd straight win for the chocolate coloured horse at Turf Paradise. Rycroft claimed the horse from a win at Woodbine for $32,000 in the fall from Joey Gee Thoroughbreds.
Born in a Breeze was a stakes winner for his breeder Walnut Ridge Farm in 2015.
TOM RYCROFT is a veteran Alberta trainer who has won 328 races and he is coming off one of the best seasons of his long career with 25 wins and lifetime best seasonal purses of over $235,000.
On Sunday, MALIBU WOOD, owned by Toronto’s Racer’s Edge and trained by Norm McKnight, led all the way to win a 1 1/2 mile dirt starter allowance at Oaklawn Park. The 6-year-old Malibu Moon gelding was 9 to 2 and was the 5th winner for McKnight at the meeting.
McKnight has had 22 starters and he comes off the title for leading Woodbine trainer.
The leading Canadian trainers currently in 2018 are: Robertino Diodoro, 41 wins; Norm McKnight, 5, Greg Tracy, 5, Stephen Chircop 4, Kevin Attard 3.
QUEEN’S PLATE NEWS
Telekenisis posts whopping 90 Beyer Figure in debut
Stonestreet Stable’s Telekinesis backed the confidence level of trainer Mark Casse’s assistant David Carroll and when the 3-year-old son of Ghostzapper made his career debut a winning one on Friday afternoon. The colt raced 6 furlongs in 1:10.
Telekinesis, bred by Bill Graham’s Windhaven, was previously entered on Jan. 25, but was scratched after he flipped over in the paddock. Carroll was anxious to finally get a race under the horse’s belt.
“We’ve like this horse from the beginning,” Carroll said. “Unfortunately he had a setback last fall and then we got him back to the races here and then he flipped in the paddock and he scratched there so we were very anxious to get him to the races and get a race in him. It was a very nice performance but he is still very green.”
A $470,000 purchase, Telekinesis’ maternal grand dam is five-time graded stakes winner Gold Mover. Carroll did not specify where he would race next.
“Hopefully we’ll build on this and tread slowly,” Carroll said. “He’s an Ontario bred so there are some options.”
Meanwhile FLAMEAWAY, the Sat Daddy colt who upset Catholic Boy in the Sam F Davis at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday, is likely headed to the Tampa Bay Derby next.
The multiple stakes winner, bred by Deb Holmes’ Phoenix Rising Farm, is all heart when he gets the lead and he posted a career best 92 Beyer Figure when he won the ‘David.
Interestingly, the John Oxley-owned colt was not originally nominated to the American Triple Crown but apparently will be supplemented now, at a cost of $6,000 US.
More canadian-bred winners:
PASSED BY PAUL, bred by sisters Yvonne and Petra Schwabe in Ontario, won his return to racing in a starter allowance at Sunland Park on Sunday. The son of Colonol John – Friendofthefamily is a 4yo who won the 6 furlong race in 1:09.99 for his 4th career win.
HALF-SISTER TO QP WINNER SIR DUDLEY DIGGES HAS FOAL
Northern Dawn Stables in Hillsburgh welcomed a filly by Old Forester – My Pal Ariana, by Aragorn recently and this little gal is sure to attract attention as she gets older. She is the first foal of a half sister to Queen’s Plate winner SIR DUDLEY DIGGES. Sherry McLean, owned of Northern Dawn Stables purchased My Pal Ariana for $15,000 at the 2017 Keeneland Janaury sale. My Pal Ariana is out of the Kris S mare My Pal Lana who produced the Plate winner.
KENTUCKY DERBY FUTURE BET ODDS
2018 Kentucky Derby Future Wager B Pool 2
‘All others’ are currently at 5 to 2 following the closing of Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future bet:
Horse Odds $Wagered Final Odds Payoff
1 Audible 9 27,429.35 9.90 21.80 $
2 Avery Island 27 10,418.22 27.70 57.40 $
3 Bolt d’Oro 8 33,114.97 8.00 18.00 $
4 Catholic Boy 16 16,755.85 16.80 35.60 $
5 Combatant 72 4,084.57 72.30 146.60 $
6 Copper Bullet 43 6,789.63 43.10 88.20 $
7 Enticed 62 4,732.80 62.30 126.60 $
8 Firenze Fire 63 4,654.76 63.40 128.80 $
9 Free Drop Billy 36 7,941.90 36.70 75.40 $
10 Good Magic 8 33,219.66 8.00 18.00 $
11 Instilled Regard 18 15,595.92 18.20 38.40 $
12 Mask 22 12,691.79 22.60 47.20 $
13 McKinzie 9 28,862.60 9.30 20.60 $
14 Mendelssohn 44 6,655.03 44.00 90.00 $
15 Montauk -OUT
16 Mourinho 31 9,327.91 31.10 64.20 $
17 Principe Guilherme 30 9,561.97 30.30 62.60 $
18 Retirement Fund 67 4,348.86 67.90 137.80 $
19 Solomini 19 14,805.53 19.20 40.40 $
20 Sporting Chance 33 8,565.39 33.90 69.80 $
21 Strike Power 40 7,164.34 40.80 83.60 $
22 Tiz Mischief 71 4,135.28 71.40 144.80 $
23 Untamed Domain 41 7,087.89 41.20 84.40 $
24 Mutuel Field (All Others) 5/2 85,444.37 2.50 7.00 $
Pool Total: 363,388.59
BIG PAYOFFS in the past week
Betting on horses is a wonderful game!
courtesy Ken Richards
Feb. 9 Santa Anita 2.00 Pick 6 $175,066.80
Feb. 9 Tampa .50c Pick5 $ 42,020.00
Feb. 8 Santa Anita .50c Pick5 $ 29,108.50
Feb.10 FairGrounds .50c Pick5 $ 28,432.85
Feb. 9 Gulfstream .20c Pick6 $ 26,058.18
Feb. 11 Laurel 1.00 SFC $ 19,598.30