For the first time in 2008 in addition to its traditional NTRA/DRF qualifiers, Arlington Park offered “live-money” contests, at the track itself as well as across much of its Trackside OTB network, and the success of those contests has lead to an expansion of the contests for 2009 to begin in the spring. Contest winners and other top tier finishers won $84,975 in prize money in addition to earning berths in the two national tournaments.
“The expansion of the OTB tour concept has been a big success as evidenced by growing attendance at each stop,” said McMannis, who handicaps Arlington’s races for the Chicago Sun-Times and is Midwest Correspondent for Horse-Player Magazine. “This fall, attendance grew even more when we added the free (to enter) handicapping contests. As we progressed from one Illinois Trackside OTB to the next, the number of fans playing in the handicapping contest grew and I expect that growth to continue next spring as more fans realize that there is no risk to playing in the contests, and the potential rewards are extremely attractive.”
There will be two NTRA/DRF NHC qualifiers during Arlington Park’s live meet, which runs from May 1 through Sept. 27. The first will be held at Trackside Arlington Park in mid-summer with the second to be offered toward the end of the meet in late summer. The dates for both qualifiers will be announced in January.
Following the live meet, the live money series will return in the fall with dates to be announced at a later time.
In addition, live money handicapping contests for devotees of harness racing will be offered for the first time in 2009 with the schedule to be announced in January.
The nine NTRA/DRF berths were awarded as follows: Jay Sloan of McLean, Va.; Richard Zimmer of New York, N.Y.; and Paul Weizer of Leominster, Mass., earned their berths at the Spring Trackside OTB NTRA/DRF Qualifier.
Mark Everhart of Federal Way, Wash.; Mayer Kanter of Souix City, Iowa.; Kevin Kerns of Westchester, Ill.; Robert Gary of Arlington Heights, Ill.; and Marc Josefowicz of Cary, Ill. earned their berths at Arlington Park’s Fall NTRA/DRF Qualifier, while Randy Reynolds of Springfield, Ill. earned his berth when he was crowned the champion at the finale of Arlington’s season-long handicapping challenge.
The challenge finale also awarded HPWS to the next five finishers, all of whom are Illinois residents: Robert Dwyer Sr. of Naperville; Dennis Hilgart Jr. of Chicago; Michael Diederick of Downers Grove; Thomas Bolek of Palatine; and Janet Stutz of Aurora.
The remaining 10 berths to the HPWS were awarded through Arlington’s Fall Trackside OTB Live Money Series Mark D’Amato of Green Bay, Wisc. and the following Illinois residents: Jay Colloton of Arlington Heights; Dave Sellner of Palatine; Otto Yahnke of Chicago; Tom Zipp of Park Ridge; Stan Koper of Chicago Ridge; Joe Russo of Oak Park; Tom Hausheer of Chicago; Joseph Pawlak of Lombard; and Dennis Lindbergh of Midlothian.