09/03/2014 4:53PM

Fornatale: Pick fives lead to win in Saratoga Twitter Challenge


Jason Perry, aka jmanmetsfan1, of Encinitas, Calif., won the first Saratoga Twitter Challenge, presented by @DRFFormulator, @DRFBets, and @DRFTournaments. Perry tallied $5,247.75 over the seven-week contest, netting himself $200 in DRF.com credit. Perry plans on entering next week’s contest on BCQualify.com to try to win his way into the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

Perry, a 41-year-old wine buyer with a master’s degree in history, has been playing horses ever since he needed a fake ID to bet back at Garden State Park in Cherry Hill, N.J. in the late 1990s. Perry enjoyed the contest format because it forced him to get organized since he had to get his picks in an hour before the first race.

His bet of choice for the contest was the pick five. Perry hit four of them throughout the contest, the richest of which paid $3,300 and got him the win.

“Playing the pick five served two purposes. In contests, you have to be aggressive. And in the pick five, you’re dealing with low takeout,” Perry said. “So, I wanted to give myself a chance to score and not deal with the takeout that the players playing pick threes and pick fours were facing.”

The biggest threat to Perry ended up being Joeaveragefan. He was sitting 5 for 5 in Sunday’s pick six with a single. Had his single come through, Joeaveragefan would have had the pick six for $6 (because the 11th race was made an “all” race after coming off the turf) and easily hit the front. Fortunately for Perry, the horse lost, and he managed to hold on through Monday.

:: Click here to purchase a copy of “The Winning Contest Player” by Peter Thomas Fornatale

The contest’s longtime leader, Tony Accetturo, ended up second with $4,674. Tallodawa finished just behind with $4,635. User macV565 made a furious run late in the contest. On Travers Day, he was down do $350, on the verge of tapping out, but he went on to finish the contest by hitting with five of six wagers and ended up fourth overall with $4,041.55.

The Saratoga Twitter Challenge was the brainchild of DRF contest director Mike Hogan, who said, “I wanted to do something a little fun and different where we could increase engagement via Twitter with a lot of the handicappers who were going to be playing Saratoga.”

On this level, the contest exceeded expectations, with weekly conversations about who picked whom, trainer angles, wagering strategies, picks, and other Saratoga-related chatter. These conversations went beyond the contest participants themselves and extended to the larger Twitter audience for horse racing.

Hogan believes that’s an important audience to reach. “There is a very active group of horseplayers on Twitter that really use their accounts to talk about all aspects of the game,” he said. “They’re not just handicapping and betting. They’re communicating and engaging and interacting on Twitter. Twitter is an extension of how they play the game.”

The rules were simple. Contestants started the event with a bankroll of $1,000 and had to bet between $50 and $250 on each weekend day at Saratoga (including Labor Day). They had the whole wagering menu available. From the grand slam to the pick six, players left no wagering stone unturned.

“I liked the idea of a contest where players could play exactly as they would in a typical day at the track,” Hogan said, “where you could maximize your best opinion as opposed to a typical mythical betting format.”

Plans call for a second Twitter Challenge in October at Keeneland. Be sure to follow@DRFFormulator and @DRFTournaments on Twitter to keep apprised of the rules.