Ryan Steigmeier never really considered himself a serious tournament player. That may be changing, though, following the 38-year-old Title Insurance executive’s win in Sunday’s Keeneland NHC-BCBC Challenge, which earned the North Royalton, Ohio resident a total of $26,370 in cash, an NHC seat and a Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge seat.
Players paid $3,000 to enter the Keeneland NHC-BCBC Challenge and started with a $2,000 bankroll with the remainder going to the prize pool. Up for grabs were seven NHC seats, seven BCBC seats, three partial BCBC entries, plus $45,000 in cash.
Steigmeier entered the day with some key opinions, the first of which came in Keeneland’s 3rd race where he keyed favorite Verve’s Tale over some longshots in the exacta and trifecta. When one of his longshots, Sacred Luna, ran second at 43-1, Ryan cashed a $50 exacta and $20 trifecta worth a total of $14,343.
At that point, Steigmeier’s lead was great enough that he never really had to fire on his other opinions.
“It was getting late in the contest and I hadn’t noticed anyone making a $3,000 or $4,000 move all day,” he said. “I really wanted that BCBC seat, so I sort of sat back figuring that if anyone did come and get me, my BCBC seat would still be safe.”
Still, Steigmeier had a tough to call to make come race 8 because tournament rules mandated that contestants must bet at least half their bankrolls on one of the last two races. At this point he had $14,900 and maintained a sizable lead. Not wanting to take an undue risk, he spread $7,500 in bets across the entire 8th race field, hoping to limit any losses to the rough parimutuel takeout. The strategy worked and he finished with $13,870, $3,878 more than runner up David Gamble, who hit a $2 trifecta in the nightcap that paid $7,730. Cheryl McIntyre, one of the leaders on the current NHC Tour standings board, finished third with $9,886. She had gone all-in with her remaining $1,890 on Moiety in the 8th race. Moiety scored at 4-1.
Steigmeier (like McIntyre) had played in the last two editions of The BIG One, as well as in a small number of brick-and-mortar, high-end live-money tournaments, but he was far from a regular. He was more comfortable playing cash through the parimutuel windows and participating in online cash games. This year, though, his playing partner, Jackie Jenkins had won a BCBC seat, and so he decided to play more tourneys than usual in the hopes of joining Jackie at Santa Anita.
The NHC, on the other hand, had never been on his radar screen and even while playing in tournaments such as The BIG One, he — remarkably — had never bothered to buy an NHC Tour Membership.
“I don’t know why, but this time I finally decided to buy an NHC membership ahead of the Keeneland contest,” Steigmeier said on Monday morning while driving from Kentucky back to Ohio. “In fact, I only bought it three days before this weekend’s contest. I’m really glad I did. Now I’ll focus on the upcoming weekly qualifiers at HorseTourneys and try to win a second NHC seat.”
Regardless of how he fares at the BCBC and NHC, it’s a safe bet Steigmeier will be back at Keeneland for their future contests.
“Keeneland always runs a top-notch tourney,” he said. “Tournament director Jim Goodman does a fantastic job. It’s similar to The BIG One in Maryland. It’s a really nice atmosphere where I can just be comfortable and fire away.”
HorseTourneys congratulates Jim Goodman and his staff at Keeneland on another outstanding event. And we wish Ryan the best of luck as he continues to make a name for himself in the contest world.