Eric Moomey, a HorseTourneys qualifier to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge via his third-place finish at The BIG One in September, made an all-in win bet of $8,322 on Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Mendelssohn ($11.60 to win for $2) to leapfrog his way to the top of the leaderboard, and he stayed there the rest of the day to finish Day 1 of the two-day competition with a total of $48,071.40.
Paul Eliot Hughes is in 2nd place with $33,815. Robert Talstra ($27,360), Vic Stauffer ($25,000) and Scott Johnson ($23,792.10) rounded out the Day 1 top five.
Moomey, a 44-year-old U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel known in contest circles as “The Money Man,” came into the BCBC with two entries. One was earned at The BIG One and one was garnered in March at Santa Anita. The Santa Anita berth made Moomey eligible for a $1 million bonus should he win the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge. But only the entry earned via Santa Anita was eligible for the seven-figure windfall.
Known for his fearlessness, Moomey decided before the 8th race, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, that it was time to make a move.
Going into the race, Moomey had $7,200 on his “Santa Anita entry” and $8,322 on the one earned at The BIG One. “The Breeders’ Cup turf races typically feature lots of foreign success,” he said. “Those horses tend to outrun their odds. So I threw all the American horses out.”
That still left five foreign horses in the race, though. And Moomey, stationed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, settled on 7-1 shot James Garfield with his Santa Anita entry and 9-2 proposition Mendelssohn with his other. But these were not ordinary plays. He went “all in” with both plays.
“My plan was either to be in it or not it’,” Moomey said.
After the race, Moomey was in it and then some. James Garfield never fired—ending Moomey’s million-dollar dreams. But Mendelssohn received a masterful, inside journey from his rail post under Ryan Moore to hold off the late closers and earn a half-length victory. The $11.60 win mutual turned his $8,322 play into $48,267.60.
“Actually, my goal, based on previous years here, was to have $48,000 after Day 1,” Moomey said. “So that worked out pretty well. I can’t tell you my strategy for tomorrow because I don’t know what it is yet. But I’ll probably be shooting for something in the $90,000 to $110,000 range.”
Moomey and the others in the record field of 444, are required to bet at least $900 on each of five races during tomorrow’s Breeders’ Cup Saturday card. All players keep their final bankrolls, and the top 15 finishers earn cash bonuses from the contest prize pool plus a berth to the NHC. The first-place bonus is expected to be approximately $333,000.