@chad_roth) took down Toga Party V with a late flourish of victories.
After guessing the Woodward $2 exacta within 20 cents (!!) on Saturday afternoon, he parlayed a Hopeful double point victory with Shanghai Bobby and Todd Pletcher's 36th training win of the meet to all but clinch this year's contest.
All that stood between he and Schenectady Daily-Gazette sports columnist Mike MacAdam was a horse named Never On Time, Pletcher's last horse entered in the meet in Race 10. A win by the Any Given Saturday gelding in an $87K NX1 would also geld the Beer Man and proclaim MacAdam the champ via tiebreaker. After a few anxious moments for the Beer Man when Never On Time was in the lead after first call, it was soon over for him in a race won by Burn The Mortgage. He finished with a record eight points (including two double-pointers).
On Travers weekend, the Beer Man approached me and was sheepish about potentially being blanked in his maiden voyage in the contest. Prophetically, I told him, "Anything can happen at a Toga Party!" So the Beer Man's chart line reads like this, "Stumbled at break, bumped repeatedly into first turn, steadied on backstretch, swept four wide around the far turn and closed like a freight train to capture Toga V."
Kudos to Mac for finishing a game second in his first Toga Party, completing the virgin exacta with Chad. He was the only contestant to pick four of the five contest stakes races.
Completing the trifecta was the ever present Green But Game who shot out of the gate early with the opening attendance victory, but heartbreaking defeats in several categories cost her winning her first title. She nailed the trainer wins (36) for double points and had the jockey wins also (58, closest to Dominguez' record 68 wins).
Robert (Toga II champ) was in the final group on Monday, the contest leader going into the final day, but Bern Identity didn't fire and left him to cursing Rosie over the interwebs and a fourth place finish. Buffalo represented in the Super High Five as Boz nailed the trainer wins and picked Alpha twice to finish in fifth. Positions 3 through 5 were determined via tiebreaker.
As for yours truly, I was sniffing it with a chance to win it all if Fortify won the Hopeful. Pletcher would have been stuck on 35 and I would have come away with four points and stole the Party with a total of seven points. Oh well, there's always next year.
When approached about his win, the Beer Man was looking to collect his winnings..."I will take free tax preparation for 10 years, week at Del Mar with the SpacePop, Sabres/Bills season tickets, $100K in cash and a key to the city of Buffalo." After I explained the fine print rules clearly outlined here, he selected "Betting on Thoroughbreds for the 21st Century" by Steve Davidowitz as the grand prize.
Congrats to Chad and breaking his maiden with the late closing move on Shanghai Bobby!
Any suggestions for next year's contest will go before the Board. I think this year's additions of the double points for the Hopeful and the exact call of any item added some drama and strategery to this year's contest.
Thanks to all for playing!