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The Horseplayer

Jay Lietzau has a passion for playing the horses. He’s been doing so since the ’80s. A week ago Lietzau used his skill and knowledge of local racing to find success on Canterbury’s biggest weekend of handicapping contests.

He participated in the Ultimate NHC Qualifier handicapping contest via an entry he won in an August contest, and also entered the 22nd annual Dog Days of Summer Handicapping Tournament on Sept 8-9. Lietzau finished second in the Ultimate, winning a berth in the $2 million National Horseplayers Championship in Las Vegas this winter. He also finished third of 90 in Dog Days, tripling his live-money bankroll and earning another $2,250 in prize money.

The Ultimate format requires players to utilize a $400 real-money bankroll, betting at least half of that bankroll in each of six Canterbury races. Because players must bet aggressively, no lead is too large to sit and no bankroll too small to prevent a comeback.

“An incredibly fun format,” Lietzau said. “The part I love about it is if you have a bankroll, you’re never out of it. I was down to $170. Three races later, I was on my way to Vegas.”

The races produced many short-priced winners which kept the leaderboard fairly compact and players forced to confront likely race outcomes. Early on the leader had $1,700 but that bankroll quickly diminished, meaning anyone with money could be hopeful.  Lietzau hammered a straight exacta to build his roll and finished off with a $600 win bet on gate-to-wire winner Baydar who paid $4.60. Another local, Terry Severson, won the contest with $1,429 and Lietzau ended with $1,380, enough send him to Vegas where top prize in the NHC is $1 million.

The Dog Days contest allows players, over the course of two days, to wager with a $400 live bankroll on any races and pools of choice at any track. Horseplayers from at least 12 states and Canada converged in Shakopee to chase entries to NHC as well as $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge berth.

Play on day one did not produce any remarkable results and the leader had $1,400. Sunday morning saw the cancellation of Kentucky Downs due to rain and the weather at Belmont forced all races to the main track with many scratches. Much homework was done for naught.

The eventual winner, Bill Chenvert of Florida, capitalized on Los Alamitos races late in the day, growing his bankroll to a winning final total of $2,109.Kenny Shaw from Illinois was second, for the second consecutive year, with $1,635. Last year Shaw’s second-place bankroll exceeded $4,000, proof of how difficult it was to find big payouts last Sunday. Both earned NHC entries with Chenvert also getting the BCBC entry. Lietzau was only a couple hundred dollars behind in third. The prize payout, along with his success two days earlier, made for a profitable weekend, one any horseplayer would embrace.

Dog Days Results

Bill Chenvert   $2,109.00 bankroll   BCBC / NHC / $1,350 cash

Kenny Shaw    $1,635.70 bankroll   NHC / $3,150 cash

Jay Lietzau  $1,464.65 bankroll        $2,250 cash

Fred Williams    $1,323.70 bankroll     $1,575 cash

Bruce Meyer       $1,154.50 bankroll        $675 cash