In what has to be considered one of the great handicapping accomplishments, Patrick McGoey staged another improbable final-race comeback to win the Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge for a second straight year Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park.
Like last year, McGoey used a large final-race wager to edge runner-up Christian Hellmers to win the tournament. McGoey earned $255,341.
"The odds of Patrick capturing lightning in a bottle for the second straight year were astronomical. It's like a team winning the Super Bowl and beating the same opponent twice on a last second Hail Mary pass with no time on the clock," said Ken Kirchner, administrator of the Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge. "All credit to Patrick, Christian, and the participants. Once again Yogi [Berra] was right: it ain't over, 'til it's over!"
McGoey of New Orleans found himself in exactly the same position he was in during the 2011 tournament, trailing tourney leader Christian Hellmers of Del Mar, Calif., with one race remaining. McGoey again bet his entire bankroll in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) and his winning wagers totaled more than $85,000, enough to secure the title.
The Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge is the country's largest live money handicapping contest. There were a record 138 players in the field, which required a $10,000 buy-in and featured $370,000 in prize money, with $170,000 to the winner. Players also keep accumulated winnings from their wagering.
Hellmers had dominated the 2012 contest in similar fashion to 2011, building his bankroll to $75,000 heading into the second-to-last race of the day, the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT). McGoey was down to $3,000 and he went all-in on Wise Dan at 9-5, turning his bankroll from $3,000 to $8,700.
"Once Wise Dan hit the finish line, I felt like I was in a better spot than 2011, even though my bankroll was 10% of the first-place leader," McGoey said. "Heading into the Classic, I knew I needed a decent priced horse. Fort Larned's solid work and his effort two back in the Whitney (Invitational Handicap, gr. I), plus an overlay price of 9-1, made him my choice."
Still trailing by almost $60,000, McGoey's $7,000 win bet on Fort Larned in the Classic and $200 cold exacta with Mucho Macho Man (for second) netted $85,000 in winnings and enough to propel him past Hellmers.
Hellmers won $154,525 for his second-place finish and Dustin Moore collected $102,400 for third. Hellmers acknowledged, "Even though I bet $2,000 on the winner in the last race to cash another $18,000, I didn't know if that was enough in the battle of sharpest minds at the track. All this does is make me hungrier for next year."
Final standings and earnings: 1. Patrick McGoey, $255,341; 2. Christian Hellmers, $154,525; 3. Dustin Moore, $102,400; 4. Duke Matties, $ 77,000; 5. Wendy Long, $60,603; 6. Alicia Teresi, $51,655; 7. Alan Hoffman, $45,170; 8. Tommy Massis, $37,811; 9. Kevin McFarland, $33,745; 10. James Benes, $29,719.