Brad Massam of Chatham, N.J., amassed a bankroll of $164.10 to capture the annual “10 Days of Festivus Challenge” Handicapping Contest sponsored by Tampa Bay Downs.
The runner-up, with a bankroll of $131.90, was Steve Wolfson of Ormond Beach, Fla., a racing consultant and a member of the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) Hall of Fame.
Massam earned the first-place prize of $1,000 and Wolfson picked up $500. There were 779 entrants.
Massam, who describes handicapping as a hobby, believes the turning point occurred Dec. 12 when his fourth-race selection, Handsome Girl, finished second at odds of 38-1. She paid $31.20 to place and $9.80 to show, giving his bankroll a $41 boost.
All told, Massam had three contest selections that returned more than $28, giving him a cushion that widened when he selected first-time starter and winner They Call Me Lucky ($17, $7.60 and $7.40) in the ninth race on Sunday, the closing day of the contest.
Wolfson, the son of the late Louis Wolfson, who owned 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed, entered the contest with strong credentials. He finished fourth in the 2003 NHC at Bally's Las Vegas, a contest won by his son, Steve Wolfson, Jr.
The younger Wolfson joined his father in the NHC Hall of Fame this year.
“It's especially gratifying to do well because there were so many people competing,” the elder Wolfson said. “I play Festivus every year. It's a customer-friendly contest and they do a great job of disseminating the information.
“I've always loved Tampa Bay Downs, going back to when George Steinbrenner owned the track. The grass course is great and it's like being at a country fair.”
Massam said his interest in the contest was also stoked by the turf offerings. “I enjoy turf racing, and because Tampa Bay Downs offers an outstanding turf racing product featuring consistently full fields and many races for young horses that attract top barns, I follow the Tampa meet very closely,” Massam said in an e-mail response.
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