Tag: road to the derby
John Napariu, horse owner, handicapper and frequent contest player at Indiana Grand, has won the 2018 Road to the Derby contest. The contest, which began Saturday, Feb. 3, covered 10 weeks of action and included 18 races from tracks across the United States. Napariu topped the field with 52 points, just one point ahead of Kenny Peacock, who finished second. Dave Stroud finished third with 49 points.
A native of New Palestine, Napariu played in all 10 weeks of the contest to earn an additional 5,000 Club Centaur Rewards points. He was a consistent player and among the top 10 from day one, but it was his choice in the $200,000 Grade III Jeff Ruby Steaks (formerly known as the Spiral Stakes) at Turfway Park March 17 that changed the whole landscape of the contest.
“It was my pick in the Spiral Stakes (Jeff Ruby Steaks) that flipped the standings and put me in the lead,” said Napariu. “Everyone that week was going with the chalk (Hazit) and I went off the chalk and picked a 10-1 shot (Blended Citizen). Up to that point, it was nip and tuck. After that, everyone seemed to go with the same horses and they just happened to win but that one race gave me a lead over them.”
Napariu earned the top prize of $1,500 for his win in the Road to the Derby contest, which concluded Saturday, April 14 with the Grade I Arkansas Derby. Napariu picked seven of the 18 races correctly, and chose the winning horse in four out of the last five weeks of the competition to retain his lead in the standings. Peacock received $600 for second while Stroud won $250 for third. The top five places received rewards with Tony Fannin finishing fourth for $100 and Karen McGuinness completing the top five finishers for $50.
After competing in 11 weeks of the 2016 Road to the Derby contest, James Ross emerged as the winner, taking home the top prize of $1,500. Ross, a native of Indianapolis, took over the lead after the fourth week and never looked back to win his first handicapping contest of his career as a horseplayer.
“I’ve been betting on horses since the late 1960’s,” said Ross. “I came to the races with an old buddy of mine. I prefer Thoroughbreds and my favorite racetracks to play are Tampa Bay Downs and Oaklawn. I don’t come out to the live races a lot, but I follow the Kentucky Derby prep races each year, so this is a nice bonus.”
Ross took over the top spot on his selection in the Tampa Bay Derby March 12 by choosing Destin to win with a payout of $9.20. Ross returned the next week to select Cupid in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, pulling in a win payout of $7.80 to solidify his lead, continuing to hold his own at the top until the final week.
In the final week of the Road to the Derby contest, only one person could have defeated Ross for the top prize. Kenny Peacock was sitting at 38 points behind Ross’ tally of 41 points. Also, FL Carrier was in third with 36 points and could have tied Ross. However, all three top players didn’t have the longshot that came in for the Arkansas Derby so the results stood as they did heading into the final week with Ross in first, Peacock in second and Carrier in third.
“I got lucky on the last race,” said Ross, who is retired from the construction business in which he was a partner in the company. “I didn’t know what other people had taken. Not a sole had that race.”