01/23/2009 7:14PM

Five for a Buck

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Magna509 The Magna 5 returns tomorrow and I'll be putting some money where my mouth's been for the last five years: They've finally reduced the minimum bet from $2 to $1, so I'm getting involved. The 50 percent discount makes a huge difference in coverage whether you're playing for $48 or $480, and I'm hopeful the handle will illustrate yet again that players bet more rather than less when minimums are reduced.

Besides, it's a sequence I like (at least at first glance before doing the work), with four stakes races, three of them Sunshine Millions events from Gulfstream or Santa Anita:

I've watched every previous Sunshine Millions from the racebook at whichever Las Vegas casino was hosting the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship, but this year I'll be at home, having flown back from the Red Rock to New York before the tournament even started because of a family illness. So my plan is to watch and live-blog the Magna 5 from home tomorrow. With any luck, Aqueduct will run its last live race as scheduled by 4:18 p.m., which -- at least in theory -- would allow the Nassau OTB channel to show all the races in the Magna 5 sequence. Here's hoping.

As for the NHC, Thomas Mooney is the early leader with an impressive unofficial Day One bankroll of $152. There's a link to updated tournament info here  and some video from TwinSpires here. Last year's winner, Richard Goodall, is currently in 38th place (of 302 finalists) at $83.40.