Horse Racing - Second-place finish just fine for Wines

October 14, 2000

Horse Racing - Second-place finish just fine for Wines

GRANTVILLE, Pa. - Charles Wines, representing the Charles Town Races, finished second in the $180,000 World Series of Handicapping Contest held last weekend at the Penn National Race Course.

The 61-year-old Warrenton, Va. resident finished with a bankroll of $11,567 - just $62 behind the $11,629 total of champion Stephen Gaul of Bernville, Pa.

While the champion earned $100,000, Wines collected $40,000 for his second-place finish.

G. Michael Burgner, who held the lead midway through Sunday's card, was third with $9,594 and earned $20,000. Tom Litz won $10,000 for his fourth place bankroll of $9,272 and Bobby Powers was fifth with $6,997 and pocketed $5,000.

According to Penn National Race Course publicity director Fred Lipkin, it was the closest, and one of the most unusual, finishes in contest history.


The field of 147 contestants started the 30-race, three-day competition with mythical $1,000 bankrolls. They were required to make a minimum $2 win, place or show wager on each race.

There were 10 lives races on Friday night and nine live events on Saturday and Sunday. A race from the Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, Calif. was used in the contest Saturday and Sunday.

The top 24 finishers in each of five preliminary qualifying rounds held earlier this year made it to the finals. They were joined by media handicappers and winners of contests held at racetracks across the country.

Wines captured the competition at Charles Town and was making his first appearance in the World Series of Handicapping.

He obviously wasn't intimidated.

"I thought I did well, overall, but I made a mistake in the sixth race Sunday and it cost me the championship," Wines said. "I would like to have that bet back."

The scene was set in the fifth race of the Sunday card.

Gaul entered the race with $3,865 and wagered the entire amount on B.C. Contract who paid $7 to win.

Gaul moved into second place behind Wines, who also made a major play on B.C. Contract - $200 to win and $100 to place. The favorite paid $6.60 to place.

"He looked like a closer and he held up to form," Wines said of B.C. Contract. "When the gates opened, you wouldn't have given him a chance but he sure made up some ground."

After the smoke had cleared, Wines had $12,642 and Gaul stood with $11,728.

With players only allowed to wager 10 percent of their existing bankrolls the rest of the way, Gaul planned to concentrate on his total and shoot for the second place prize of $40,000.

To his surprise, Wines wagered and lost $1,000 in the seventh race on Ryvers Own and dropped back to second place in the standings.

"I wasn't going to take any big risks the last two races once I got the lead," said Gaul. "Charlie and I both played the same horse (Precious Annie) in the last race and I just lasted. As any horseplayer knows, you've got to win the photo finishes."

Wiles made a remarkable comeback in the contest and was pleased to be a championship challenger at the finish.

"I had a little less than $1,000 after Friday and $667 coming into Sunday, far behind the leaders and in 30th place," Wines said. "I got started Sunday by betting $60 to win on a horse that paid $30."

Then came the deciding seventh race.

"I messed up, that's what lost it for me," Wines said. "I bet $1,000 on a horse and he didn't do anything. I should have bet $2 like he did."

Ryvers Own only beat one horse in the seventh race, finishing sixth.

In the eighth race, Wines wagered $10 across the board on all seven horses and again was denied a break when the favorite won.

In the ninth race, he wagered $80 across on the three horse (Precious Anne) while Gaul wagered $100 to win.

"The horse ran second," Wines said. "If he had paid a little better to place. I could have still caught him (Gaul)."

Precious Anne returned mutuels of $3.20 and $2.20.

All in all, it was a learning experience for Wines.

"It was my first time up there and I was surprised to be in the hunt," Wines said. "I only had $667 going into Sunday's card and some of them had $5-$6,000 bankrolls. I didn't think I had a shot."

Wines, a bricklayer, owns two horses which compete at Charles Town and hinted part of the $40,000 winnings may be spent in obtaining another thoroughbred.

"I'd say there's a good chance of buying another horse," Wines said.

Peters' job change works out

Rodney Peters, a former steward at the Charles Town Races, holds a similar position at Penn National.

"Things are going well," Peters said. "The work is similar but there isn't as much paperwork here as I had at Charles Town. I enjoyed my uears in West Virginia but the benefits and compensation attracted me to Pennsylvania."

The state steward started work at Penn National on March 11, 2000. He is joined in the stewards' stand by Dean Nickerson and Jeff Riggleman.

Nickerson is the presiding steward.

The change in venue doesn't make Peters' job any easier or any tougher.

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