By Lucas Marquardt
With the mandatory races done and just a few optionals remaining, Robert Gilbert held a commanding advantage on the leaderboard at the 20th NTRA National Horseplayers Championship, presented by Racetrack Television Network, STATS Race Lens and Treasure Island Las Vegas. Gilbert had a bankroll of $289, well ahead of runner-up Chris Littlemore’s $241 tally. Littlemore was last year’s champ and is looking to become the first two-time NHC winner. Ten Strike Racing’s Marshall Gramm was set to advance to Sunday’s semifinal with both of his entries. He was in 20th at $187.60 with one and at 52nd with another. Little Red Feather partner Joseph Rosen was a tick behind Gramm at $187.50.
Former TDN-er Steve Decaspers hit the last race at Santa Anita with a 5-1 shot that secured him a semi-final spot, as well.
“God bless John Kimmel and Paynter,” said Decaspers, whose big knock on the day was courtesy the 41-1 Mega Fortune in the 5th at Gulfstream.
For up-to-date results, visit www.ntra.com.
NHC Player Hits Big at Gulfstream
Owner/breeder Barry Kerbel didn’t make much of an impact on the NHC leaderboard yesterday. But the Toronto-based commercial realtor had a massive afternoon at the Treasure Island ballroom nonetheless.
Kerbel invested about $1,250 in a pair of 20-cent Rainbow Pick 6 tickets at Gulfstream and hit both to the tune of $200,000. Kerbel had two of the six winning tickets. There was a mandatory payout Saturday, and a big payday was guaranteed when Papa Y (Gone Astray) won the opening leg at 58-1.
“He looked excellent on the track, and I’ve seen him work out at Gulfstream,” Kerbel said. “And I like that rider [Marcos Meneses]. I know he’s a hustling rider who would go to the front.”
Kerbel went five horses deep in that opening leg. Asked if it wasn’t his biggest-ever score, he said, “No. I hit a Pick 6 for $1.3 million at Santa Anita a couple years ago, and I hit a Woodbine Pick 6 for $800,000.”
Kerbel, 65, is playing in his first NHC and only second-ever tournament.
Kerbel and his son have 25 horses in training with Denyse McClachrie in Canada and with Jorge Abreu and Fernando Abreu.
“We have a pretty good claiming stable, and have some nice up-and-coming youngsters,” he said. “If they stay healthy, we’ll have some good ones.”