Stickney, IL--Prominent owner Jeff Barnes has not only been having a good Hawthorne fall meet with his horses but he just earned a trip to Las Vegas…along with $25,000 to spend and an entry into the Coast Casino Horseplayer World Series contest. In fact, Jeff won two entries into the contest. He not only finished first in the overall handicapping event, he won the Sunday’s series of qualifiers, earning another entry. But, since only one entry per person is allowed, Jeff magnanimously passed the other entry to a friend. What a guy!

The contest, held on December 13 and 14 awarded the players who earned the most money with a starting bankroll of $250 on both Saturday and Sunday. There was no entry fee and the players kept all winnings.

Mr. Barnes was reached for an interview on Wednesday. He was in New Orleans at the time, having driven all night through snow, ice, and all other kinds of inclement weather on Monday. But, obviously still in good humor, Jeff was kind enough to give me a few minutes of his time.

When asked about his winning strategy, he laughed. “Just to have fun”, was his reply. “That’s how I go to the races everyday. I just try to pick horses that I think have good shots and have some fun with my picks. I didn’t feel any pressure. I never do when I’m at the track. I like having fun. That’s what it’s all about.”

“I started out on Saturday with a big Pick 4 at Hawthorne (the early Pick 4 paid over $1800 on a $1 wager) and felt that I was in the driver’s seat from there. I obviously watched the results and how others were doing. I was far enough ahead that I didn’t need to do too much at that point. I kind of just sat, playing a little bit to stay qualified, but didn’t make any big moves.”

“I’ve been in some contests before. I thought I had the day money won in one Las Vegas event but somebody got me in the last race. I think it was with a $50 horse. So, I know how things can happen. I was keeping that in mind for this contest, doing enough to stay in the lead.”

“I didn’t have a real strategy. I spread out a bit, usually in the gimmicks. I like to play Pick 3s and Pick 4s. They offer the best value. That’s what I was going for.”

“I love racing with a passion. I currently own four horses. The first winner I had as a horse owner was named Inside Job. My best win ever was with a horse named Alby. Mark Guidry rode him in that race. I won other races for more money but that was the one most important to me. I had all my people out for that race. They all made a little bit of money. We had a great time. That was special. This was special.”

The consistency award goes to Andrew Dostal and Anthony Ordzowialy who had nice gains on both days showing their handicapping prowess.

Larry Peifer made a bold move on Day 2 but could not sustain his momentum and finished 3rd overall after pulling in the high score of $1,631.71 on Day 2 after a Day 1 total of $0.

Finally, kudos to Oliver Wilson, one of our long time regulars and veteran contest player. Wilson finished 4th overall and collected $1,568.60 over the 2 day period.

The top 10 finishers were:

1-JEFF BARNES ($2296.36)
2-ANDY DOSTAL ($1925.50)
3-LARRY PEIFER ($1631.71)
4-OLIVER WILSON ($1568.60)
6-JIM BENES ($1005.38)
7-CRAIG JACONSON ($910.30)
8-KEVIN KERNS ($903.30)
9-GEORGE MICHALS ($736.200
10-JAMES COYNE ($721.05)