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Conclusion to Spring Challenge is a Shocker!

All of us at want to thank everyone who competed in the $25,000 Online Handicapping Challenge this spring. Every year we conduct the Challenge we never cease to be amazed by skill and dedication you put into your craft. Your participation has helped make the Challenge, the best online handicapping tournament on the Internet.

One of the crazy things about the Challenge is just one think you have seen it all something shocks you. In the three-year history of the Challenge, no one had ever finished on top in the overall standings for most wins and high ROI until now. Former CPA Jerold Shocker pulled off the unprecedented feat by finishing with a flourish on the final weekend with 7 wins and $73.40 in ROI. His amazing achievement earned him a check for $5,000 and a spot on the team heading to Las Vegas for the $200,000 Daily Racing Form National Handicapping Championship.

Grand prize winner Jerold Shocker
Grand prize winner Jerold Shocker

"My father was a very good handicapper," said Mr. Shocker. "He used to take me to the track as a kid. When I sold my business 9 years ago, I started playing the horses again. I focus on jockey, trainers and the horse's record at the track and the distance. For the contest I used Quick Plays and the Scratch Sheet. I have played in the Challenge before but this is the first time I have been able to play all 4 weeks. It really paid off!"

Yes, it did. To the tune of $5,000 dollars and trip to Las Vegas!

Not to be overshadowed by Mr. Shocker's strong performance was fellow grand prize winner Richard Stilwell. Remarkably Mr. Stilwell finished second overall for most wins and high ROI. A veteran Challenge player, Richard Stilwell turned on the afterburners the final 2 weeks of the Challenge to earn a spot on the team heading to Las Vegas. He won the $5,000 grand prize and the trip by more than doubling his bankroll in the final two weeks of the contest.

Grand prize winner Richard Stilwell
Grand prize winner Richard Stilwell
"I just really picked up the pace on the final two weeks," said Mr. Stilwell. "The cards were really tough but I felt good about my picks. I look for separation with the Prime Power Number. If the horse is high on Prime Power, Early Pace and Late Pace they almost always come in the money. I use that to narrow it down to a couple of contenders and then use the post position information in the Ultimates to make a final decision. There is so much information in the Ultimates. With the Track Bias and Race information (available in Ultimate PPs) you can pick any track and make a logical decision. One last thing, I want to thank all the wives for putting up with us guys."

In the "It's Not Over, Until It's Over" category, weekly Challenge winners Bob Schucker and Marlene McGehee both shook off poor starts to claim $2,500 in prize money. After the first two weeks of the Challenge, Mr. Schucker's win total stood at one and his bankroll at $17. Undeterred by the slow start, he came out swinging in week 3 and became the first member in Challenge history to sweep both halves of the weekly prize money. A lifelong horseplayer, Mr. Schucker's mother taught him how to handicap at the age of five at Caliente racetrack in Tijuana, Mexico.

"I started out lousy," said Mr. Schucker, "I only had one win after the first week. The second week I blanked, but I had 5 seconds so I knew I was starting to come around. I am always looking for prices, so the six wins was a suprise. It was pretty cool. I use your Quick Play PPs. The comments about the trainers and horses are great. When I handicap I look at track bias and class. I try not to get to overloaded with information."

Texas native Marlene McGehee duplicated the rare of feat of week 3 winner Bob Schucker by capturing the top spots for most wins and high ROI in week 4 of the Challenge. After missing the third week of the Challenge to attend her husband's 50th high school reunion, Mrs. McGehee roared back with 7 wins and $74.60 in ROI to earn $2,500.

"I still can't believe it," exclaimed Mrs. McGehee. "I have never won that much money. I love horseracing. My first trip to the track was Oaklawn in 1981. This is the second year I have played in the Challenge. I really like the Quick Play PPs. I look at all the information - jockey, trainer, works, sire. I use it all. Then I narrow it down to a couple of horses and go with my gut feeling."

Week 2 of the Challenge was dominated by handicappers from out West. Larry Snyder of Las Vegas, Nevada won the tiebreaker for most winners, and John Pheasant of Seattle, Washington had the high R.O.I. by a single dollar for week 2.

A member since 1996, Mr. Snyder downloads BRIS software datafiles for use in his own handicapping program. An employee of the Race and Sports Book at the Sunset Station casino in Las Vegas, Mr. Snyder is an avid handicapper and tournament player.

"Since most of the contest races are fairly evenly matched," explained Mr. Snyder, "I try looking for horses that have a slight leg up. It could be class, pace, jockey trainer combo. The $28.80 horse I had was an example of that - a horse on the improve that gets ignored by the public. His morning line odds were 6-1 and goes off as an overlay. I'm always looking for ways to beat the favorite. Even if the favorite is a monster. Its costs me sometimes in tournaments; fortunately, it worked this time."

It certainly did! Congratulations on winning $1,500!

John Pheasant of Seattle squeaked out the high ROI in week 2 by a dollar. A new member, Mr. Pheasant also uses BRIS software datafiles.

"It's funny," Mr. Pheasant said, "The first week I really took a long time to handicap and I did horribly. Last week, I just breezed right through and won. What's crazy is I didn't know I won. When my girlfriend told about winning, I thought she was joking."

No joke John. You won $1,000.

Longtime members Pat Bryk and Anthony Farace each claimed a share of the prize money in week one. Both BRIS members since the mid-90's, each was quick to point out that Ultimate PPs played a key role in their victories.

"For the Challenge I used the Ultimate PPs," said Mr. Bryk. "I find the race summary and track bias information extremely helpful. For example, the summary page clearly pointed out War Emblem on Saturday. He was rated on tops in several categories on the summary page. One key difference with Ultimate's is your Class and Prime Power Ratings. All the winners on Saturday's contest were in the top 5 for Prime Power. This can really help you identify the contenders in each race."

Congratulations on the nice score Pat!

What's the difference between winning and losing? $2.60! Anthony Farace claimed the top spot Saturday in week one of the Challenge for most wins by that slim margin. The extra couple bucks broke a 14-way tie for most wins and earned him a check for $1,500.

"I thought I did a decent job of handicapping," said Mr. Farace, "Of course I had a little luck. I really like the Ultimate PPs. I like to handicap maiden and turf races and the pedigree stats in the Ultimates are invaluable. I also use the pace numbers and compare them with the race pars. The class ratings are handy when trying to decipher how horses from different tracks are going to run. I played in the Challenge last fall but I didn't give myself enough time to handicap. This year I made sure to give myself some extra time."

Thanks again for your participation in the 2002 Spring Challenge. Be sure to check our site for details on the 2002 Fall Challenge - where we will give away another $25,000 in cash and prizes and fill the final two spots on the team heading to Las Vegas!

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