It was a tale of two tournaments for Karl Barth and his high-school classmate Brent Johnson.
Two of the 57 players in the field for the $325,000 The BIG One, Barth and Johnson began with the same $1,000 live-betting bankrolls that all players received at the start of the two-day tournament at Laurel Park. But that’s where the similarities ended. Johnson, who with Barth and others are part of Bushwood Stable–owner of 2004 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Better Talk Now, among others–was one of four players who busted out on Day 1. Barth looked to be headed to a similar fate when his bankroll dropped to $350. But that’s when he hit a $180 win wager on 11-1 shot Fire Ken in the Sensible Lady Turf Dash at Laurel, to leapfrog to the lead…a position he would not relinquish…en route to a final Day 1 total of $2,358.
Barth, a resident of Shepherdstown, West Virginia, finished Day 1 $133 ahead of Joe Pettit ($2,225.80) in second place. Sammy Richman ($1,838), Brett Wiener ($1,698.80) and Mike McIntyre ($1,541.25) rounded out the top five.
The field of 57, now reduced to 53, will reconvene on Sunday for the final day of the two-day extravaganza. Players will be required to make at least 10 wagers of $50 or more on the four Sunday contest tracks (Laurel Park, Belmont Park, Gulfstream Park and Woodbine) to determine the winner. Known as the “high expectation tournament,” The BIG One awards 10 National Horseplayers Tournament (NHC) berths, 10 entries to the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) tournament, 10 entries to the Horse Player World Series plus cash bonuses to its small but very select field. Fifty players earned their way in to The BIG One via online qualifiers at Horsetourneys.com, two won via live, onsite qualifiers at Laurel Park and five purchased last-minute, buy-in entries at $5,750 each.
The top 25 in the Day One final standings are as follows: