Tony Fannin to represent Indiana Grand at $50,000 BetAmerica WHHC
When players take their seat for the $50,000 BetAmerica World Harness Handicapping Championship (WHHC) at The Meadowlands Saturday, April 29, Indiana will be represented. Tony Fannin and Derek Thurber emerged victorious in the WHHC qualifier held at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday, April 8. Fannin, a regular player at Indiana Grand, won the contest by accumulating a total of $65.70 from a mythical bankroll of $40. As a result, the Indianapolis native won $2,000 and advances to the WHHC final.
“I’m really a Thoroughbred player, but I do a little bit of both and I go up to Hoosier Park every once in a while,” said Fannin. “I play in all of the handicapping tournaments and the entry fee was only $50 at Hoosier Park so I played with two entries. I’ve never been to The Big M, so I’m looking forward to going.”
Since winning, Fannin has done a little research about the final. He will begin with $300 and will get to keep any winnings he accumulates on the contest with hopes of finishing high enough to take home the top prize of $50,000.
“One of the designated races in the contest is from Hoosier Park, so I’m hoping to get an advantage there,” said Fannin about the final. “I’ve been watching the races from both The Meadowlands and Hoosier Park to get ready for the trip.”
Born in the Indianapolis area, Fannin’s first introduction to racing was through his grandparents, who lived near the current location of Indiana Grand. He would accompany them to both Latonia and River Downs (now Turfway Park and Belterra, respectively) and learned to love racing from those trips.
“Back then, I was just a railbird,” said Fannin. “But just hanging around with my grandpa, I learned about betting on horses.”
Fannin’s early education on racing has paid off. He has won numerous in-house contests at Indiana Grand and has advanced to the National Handicapping Championship (now known as the National Horseplayers Championship) in Las Vegas three times in pursuit of the seven figure prize money. One of his strongest strengths as a handicapper is he is consistent, which hopefully will pay off for him at The Meadowlands for the WHHC final.
Thurber, who is also headed to The Meadowlands for the WHHC final, finished behind Fannin with a final bankroll of $58.80, earning $1,000 in prize money. Vern Glenn finished third to take home $500 in prize money.
The format of the qualifying tournament at Hoosier Park required contestants to make 10- $2 win and place wagers on 10 designated Hoosier Park contest races. Fannin got off to a strong start in the first few races of the contest and continued to stay atop the leader board throughout all 10 races. After trailing for much of the contest, Thurber made a comeback in the final two races of the contest to secure his second place spot.
The seats to the World Harness Handicapping Championship are valued at $800, roundtrip airfare and two-night accommodations will also be provided to Fannin and Thurber by Hoosier Park.
The BetAmerica WHHC is a one-day tournament (April 29, 2017), with a welcome reception the prior evening. The contest format requires players to bet 10 races: their choice of six Meadowlands races, plus four designated mandatory races from partner tracks, which includes one from Hoosier Park. Players keep all pari-mutuel winnings. Prize payouts are to the Top 10, with a guaranteed prize pool of $50,000. For the contest entry form and complete rules, visit playmeadowlands.com.