Nisan Gabbay, a 40-year-old software developer and owner of a tech startup company, turned two gutsy wagers in the day’s final two races into victory at the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge at Del Mar.
The San Francisco resident, who grew up in Del Mar, Calif., found himself with a modest-sized bankroll of $7,200–$300 less than his starting stake—heading into the day’s penultimate race, the Breeders’ Cup Turf. For Gabbay and his longtime friend and contest-playing partner Kevin McFarland, it was time to get bold.
“The horse that we loved in that race was Talismanic, the European shipper” Gabbay said. “We put $4,000 to win on him at 14-1. That jumped us up to $55,000.”
With Ron Ferrise of Las Vegas still atop the standings, though, at $143,422, Gabbay wasn’t about to take his foot off the gas pedal. But on a day marked by several winning longshots, Gabbay trained his focus on the main contenders in the day’s final race, the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“We thought we were going to put the money on Gun Runner, but we saw that putting the money to win wouldn’t guarantee victory,” said Gabay. “So we shifted strategy, took a little more risk in order to go for the win, and the horse we really didn’t like in the race was Arrogate….so we bet big exactas with Collected in second, West Coast in second and Gunnevara in second. Luckily Gun Runner dug in, and he held off Collected at the end.”
“Big” was no overstatement on Gabbay’s part. When Gun Runner and Collected ran first and second, respectively, in the Classic, Gabbay was sitting on an exacta ticket of slightly more than $10,000 on the winning 5-11 combination, which paid $34.00 for $2. The big punch left him with a final total of $176,000. And since Ferrise lost modestly on the final race and no one else made any dramatic scores, Gabbay ended the day atop the record field of 444. That made him a winner—not just of his $176,000 bankroll—but of $350,000 in bonus money from the prize pool, plus a berth in the 2018 National Horseplayers Championship next February at Treasure Island, where Gabbay is now eligible for a $3 million bonus should he capture the prestigious Las Vegas tournament.
Ron Ferrise finished the day in second place with a bankroll of $142,697.50. Ferrise built his bankroll on the strength of a $150 Daily Double wager combining back–to-back longshots Stormy Liberal ($65.40 to win in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint) and Bar of Gold ($135.40 to win in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint). The double paid $2,546.40—which, after withholding, left him with a total of $147,122.50. Ferrise played conservatively from there, but he held on to second place, which meant a prize pool bonus of $225,000.
Finishing third was Ed Peters, who played two BCBC entries remotely from his home in Pelham, N.H. His third-place total of $97,200 was incredibly unlikely given where he was with just four races remaining.
“The entry that finished third was down to $900 heading into the World Approval-Lancaster Bomber [Breeders’ Cup Mile] race. Then…a few races later…$100,000. Ridiculous!” said Peters, who went a similarly torrid late tear to win The BIG One in September after nearly going broke two separate times late on Day 2 of the competition at Laurel Park.
Peters, a 46-year-old owner of a bread distribution company, earned $125,000 in BCBC prize pool money to go along with his final bankroll of $92,000. His second entry finished a plenty-respectable 19th, amassing a bankroll score of $41,020.
As if that weren’t enough, Peters finished second in HorseTourneys’ $75,000 pool-style tournament, which earned him another $12,985.
As if THAT weren’t enough, the Granite State native finished best of 1,684 entries on Saturday in a free tournament at HorsePlayers offering a trip to the 2018 Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs and a $10,000 entry into next year’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.
“What a wildly entertaining day!” Peters said.
Nisan Gabbay, Ron Ferrise and so many others involved in the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge would wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment.
The complete final standings can be seen at breederscup.com/bcbc