Xpressbet’s entertaining and profitable $100,000 Dime-a-Day 2016 competition is in the books and it was an exciting season.
Bruce Hilbert, a 60-year-old technical manager for a powder paint company from Sylvania, OH, and John Velguth, a 63-year-old retiree from El Cajon, CA, claimed respective Saratoga and Del Mar Championships.
They each banked $6,000 in seasonal prizes!
While Hilbert and Velguth’s achievements were spectacular, possibly the most notable accomplishment of the summer belongs to Charles Guenther, a 60-year-old pharmacist from Pittsburgh, PA, who, incredibly, finished second in both Dime-a-Day Saratoga and Dime-a-Day Del Mar! He collects a total of $6,000 in seasonal prize money--$3,000 for each runner-up placing.
Also earning seasonal awards were Gary Flynn, third in Spa action with $1,000 in total earnings, and Andrew Schalk, the Del Mar show finisher, at $981. They each collect an additional $1,000.
Hilbert’s cumulative Saratoga earnings total, based on a single, ‘live’ $10 win wager on one horse each racing day, was $1,313. Velguth’s corresponding triumphant Del Mar figure was $60 higher at $1,373. In addition to seasonal first prize booty, along the way, Hilbert and Velguth also pocketed additional daily prize awards and pari-mutuel payoffs from ‘live’ contest wagers.
Dual runner-up Guenther finished a mere $35 behind Hilbert in the Spa version at $1,278. Guenther had the lead in that competition into Saturday, September 3, when Hilbert exploded with a $78.50 winner worth $393.50 for a $10 wager.
“I hit one winner Thursday (Sept. 1) for $192 and another one in the fourth race Saturday (Sept. 3) for $163 (both based on $10 win wager),” recounts Guenther. “After Saturday’s race, I left the house with Saratoga in my pocket, thinking about how I could maybe win Del Mar, too.”
Guenther ignored the conclusion of Saratoga’s Saturday card and missed seeing eighth race winner Silver Ride roar home at 38-1. That was the crushing $393.50 contest score that propelled Bruce Hilbert past Guenther into the lead and ultimately the Dime-a-Day Saratoga title.
Arrogance hadn’t keep Guenther from watching the afternoon’s final few races. He had a much better alibi. At about the exact moment Silver Ride was being photographed in the Spa winner’s circle Guenther was proudly escorting his youngest daughter down the aisle at her wedding.
Once Guenther finally did access Dime-a-Day daily results, lingering joy effectively muted the sting of losing the Spa lead.
“Sunday, we had lots of people at the house, so I couldn’t sneak off to the computer to play the races,” the proud father-of-the-bride explained. “Monday (Labor Day and closing day at the Spa), I had things all to myself, no excuses. I just couldn’t make up the $35 difference.”
Guenther says he missed playing Dime-a-Day a few times during the season. “Trying to run a pharmacy while playing the horses is a tough way to win.”
In Del Mar action, Velguth and Guenther set the pace throughout, the former gaining the final advantage August 6--buoyed by a $59.80 winner worth $299 for a $10 contest wager. That was one of an amazing seven occasions when Velguth either claimed or shared a daily prize. Velguth’s winning margin of $366 over Guenther was ten times greater than Hilbert’s advantage over Guenther in the Spa version.
However, despite boasting a seemingly safe cushion over rivals in the final furlongs of Dime-a-Day Del Mar, Velguth never felt comfortable. “I was sweating. In this competition, you’re never safe,” he said. “At the end, I was betting the longest-priced horses just to protect my lead. Closing day, in the last race at Del Mar, a 111-1 shot missed by a neck to a 19-1 winner. I didn’t have either horse. If the bigger-priced horse had won I could have been passed right there.”
Velguth, born and raised in the San Diego area, has been playing the races at Del Mar since he was 10-years-old. “For me, winning this (Dime-a-Day) has been a goal. I’ve been near the top before, but never pulled through. I watched a lot of replays this summer, and that helped, especially looking at gallop-outs past the wire.”
Velguth says his handicapping style combines a little bit of everything. “It’s more a process of excluding horses. I was told that the public bets too much on favorites, so you should look for a price. That thinking fits well with this competition.”
A couple of charities figure to gain from Velguth’s payday. Early in the competition, he vowed that if he won he would donate 20% of his winnings to charity--the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund and the homeless in San Diego are at the top of his list.
“Any horseplayer knows how it was for me this year,” the Del Mar Champ philosophized, “It was one of those years when you’re on the right end of the photos. You have to embrace those years.”
Spa Dime-a-Day Champ Bruce Hilbert’s been around the racing game his entire life--his father and brother both owned horses. They raced primarily at Thistledown, some at Fair Grounds and also at Mountaineer, back when it was Waterford Park. Brother Steven, also a Dime-a-Day player, managed to finished 17th in the Saratoga competition.
Despite spending time on the road for work, Hilbert, father of four and married for 35 years, relates that he missed playing Dime-a-Day only once during the entire Saratoga season. “I’ve played Dime-a-Day before and split the top daily prize a few times, but never came close to winning the whole thing,” Hilbert said. “In the end, with just a $35 lead I had to wait until the last race to see if I would hold on.”
Hilbert’s handicapping method requires a scan of Daily Racing Form past performances for horses that meet certain criteria that include speed, class and improvement.
“I look for an improving horse with speed,” explained the Spa Dime-a-Day Champ, “maybe a horse that ran 7th, 5th, 4th and fits with the competition at good odds.”
Hilbert notes that his normal horseplay varies from his Dime-a-Day approach, “I’m not a real longshot player, per se, but in Dime-a-Day you’ve got to take a shot and look for price horses. This season I got lucky and a few of them came in.”
‘A few came in’ for many Xpressbet account holders. Dime-a-Day Del Mar players collected 305 daily prizes during the season. Saratoga participants shared in 283 daily payouts, bringing the total number of Dime-a-Day daily prize awards to 588! And, of course, six additional bountiful seasonal prizes were presented to top players.
Congratulations to account holders who nabbed a piece of the Dime-a-Day prize pie! And a hearty ‘thank you’ goes to everyone who participated. A challenge is only as good as the competitors…and we have the best in the business.
As Dime-a-Day Saratoga Champ Bruce Hilbert put it, “Dime-a-Day is a lot of fun!”
We couldn’t agree more.