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Marathon weekend for HANA contest ends

September 08, 2015

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It was a very long weekend for the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge presented by the Bellino Stables, DRF Harness, Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs as the field of handicappers had to work their way through five consecutive contest days at four different venues.
The long weekend opened Thursday evening at Mohawk where two of the HANA All-Star handicappers were a perfect three for three. Derick Giwner and Earl Paulson both maxed out with a total of 82 points. The current contest leader and the evenings third place finisher was Sally Hinckley at 41 points.
Friday evening saw another trio of races again from Mohawk. This time we saw seven handicappers tie for the nightly win. Sally Hinckley, Anne Stepien, Josi Verlingieri, Bob Zanakis, Dennis O'Hara, Gordon Waterstone and Mark Dezii all tabbed both Southwind Frank and Elegant Serenity for a total of 29 points.
Saturday was the biggest day of the tour with nine events on tap. There were seven heats from Mohawk and then two from Yonkers.The night started out quite interesting as four handicappers came up with the 9-1 winner of the first race. They then saw their nice juicy payout halved when the judges posted the dead-heat sign with another longshot. When the long evening was over, part time amateur scribe Rusty Nash topped out at 409 points after hitting the first six Mohawk races in a row. When added to his Thursday and Friday total Rusty had the same 409 points! Bob Zanakis nosed out Josi Verlingieri for the place spot by the score of 239 to 234.Longshot maven Ray Cotolo and the Canadian Harness Racing Idol Garnet Barnsdale both had the highest priced winner of the evening when they selected Revenge Shark to win the Messenger at Yonkers Raceway.
Sunday saw the action shift to the Midwest and Balmoral Racetrack where two stakes were contested. Big scoring on nights with only two or three races requires each favorite to be beaten. The handicappers finally had an evening where both favorites went down to defeat. Unfortunately for everyone, no one had both of them. Two of our power hitters still connected with one longshot. Contest leader Sally Hinckley nailed Barrycourt for a $20 price and a total of 29 points. Derick Giwner outscored Sally by a dollar when he got Catch All home at $21. That gave him 36 points on the night and another win in the daily scoring.
The long weekend of racing came to a close on Monday, Labor Day, at Tioga Downs. With only a single race on the contest program. It was a short field and it did not figure to make a big impact on the scoring. With no show wagering the favorite entry won and the total points for the day was 7. A few players took the day off and most of the rest picked up the 7 loose points that were available.
For the weekly honors, Nash finished on top with 426 points. Giwner completed the exacta with 326 points. Verlingieri completed the weekly trifecta with 312 points.
The top five in the overall Grand Circuit Tour remain the same with only some slight shuffling of positions. Sally Hinckley remains on top with 2,858 points. She was able to maintain her impressive 400 point lead. Mark McKelvie swapped places with Anne Stepien taking the place position. Bob Zanakis just got by Gordon Waterstone to take over fourth with Gordon completing the black type. (HANA)
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