Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Staten Islander Surges to Win Aqueduct Handicapping Challenge

Jerry McClenin, a 51-year-old printing press operator from Staten Island, N.Y., claimed the $35,000 grand prize in the Aqueduct Fall Handicapping Challenge this past weekend, defeating 206 contestants from 16 different states and three different countries en route to the victory.

Along with the second and third place finishers, McClenin will be on the three-member Aqueduct Racetrack team in the 2009 NTRA/Daily Racing Form National Handicapping Championship (NHC), to be held this coming January 23-24 at the Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa in Las Vegas. The NHC is giving out a grand total of $1 million in prize money with the first-place winner receiving $500,000 and the title of NTRA Handicapper of the Year, an honor the winner will receive at the 2008 Eclipse Awards, which will be held January 26, 2009, at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, Fla.

After the first day of the contest on Saturday, McClenin was in third place with $810 dollars, $95 behind the leader, Thomas Mooney, a 55-year-old retired Wall Street worker who lives in Lindenhurst, N.Y. Mooney maintained a slim lead through most of day two, but McClenin surged past him late when Step Out Smartly won the 8th race at Churchill Downs at odds of 5-to-1.

“I was in good position heading into day two, so my strategy was to bide my time and wait to make my bets until late in the card,” McClenin said. “I was fortunate enough to hit the feature at Aqueduct [National Pride, 8th race] and then was able to take the lead with the win at Churchill.”

The tournament format allows each contestant nine $20 win, place, or show mythical wagers and one $40 wager during both days of the weekend competition. McClenin finished with a total of $1,091, squeaking out the win over Mooney, who finished with $966. Ken Seeman, a 46-year-old Wantagh, N.Y. native who works at Madison Square Garden, finished in third place with $924.

Mooney won $10,000 for finishing in 2nd place plus $1,000 for being the day one winner, Seeman won $7,500 for finishing in 3rd place, while Patrick Famularo won $1,000 for leading all of the contestants on day two. The top 20 finishers all received prize money, as well.

The New York Racing Association Inc. operates three Thoroughbred racetracks: Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park Racetrack, and Saratoga Race Course. Founded in 1955, NYRA is franchised to conduct Thoroughbred racing in New York through 2033. To learn more about NYRA, please visit http://www.NYRA.com.

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