11/03/2014 2:11PM

Traynor pulls a McGoey to win BC Betting Challenge


Bob Traynor, a 54-year old packaging sales rep from Oceanside, Calif. won over $300,000 in the sixth running of the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, a two-day live-bankroll handicapping contest held annually over the two days of the Breeders’ Cup. Players competed for over $700,000 and 15 berths to the National Handicapping Championship.

Paul Weizer, in front going into the Classic, ended up with $54,770, good for an additional $130,000 in prize money. John Conte, well known as the 2009 NHC winner and from the cast of the “Horseplayers” television show, took home over $124,000 in total for his third-place finish. Racing analyst Nick Tammaro also scored six figures for his fourth-place finish.

Another notable name in the top 10 was Daily Racing Form’s own Matt Bernier, Conte’s “Horseplayers” castmate. Bernier, playing for the benefit of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, finished sixth, winning over $70,000 between bankroll and prize money.

But the contest belonged to Traynor, who qualified for the BCBC on BCQualify.com and finished with $71,000 in bankroll. He went all-in in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Bayern and had to survive a long inquiry.

“I knew two things during the running of the race,” Traynor said. “Bayern made the lead so comfortably I knew he was going to win. But I also knew the inquiry sign was coming up.”

Despite the controversy, Traynor remained confident after the race that he was staying up. “The only reason I was concerned was that the horse he impeded was Shared Belief, the favorite,” he said. “It was a difficult call but I think it was the right call.”

Traynor started playing contests around three years ago but has accrued plenty of experience in that time, playing mostly in live-bankroll events in Southern California. He’s found his experiences in other live-bankroll events, including last year’s BCBC, invaluable. “There is definitely some strategy involved that I really didn’t think through initially in terms of money management,” he explained, “You don’t want to blow it up too early. In the first contests played in, I loved something early and probably overbet it and lost. Then you’re forced to chase and that’s never a good thing.”

Traynor got off to a solid start on Day 1, playing a few chalky winners and ending up fifth with $18,976. Day 2 started out rough but he got back up into sixth place with a strong play on Judy the Beauty. Then he fired and missed in the Turf, Sprint, and Mile and his bankroll was down to $10,000. He had a decision to make – the critical decision one must answer in a live-bankroll event. Traynor said, “I asked myself, ‘Do I walk away with $10,000 or do I lay it out there?’ ”

Traynor decided to let it ride. After the Mile, he knew he was going to play one of two horses, Cigar Street or Bayern. When initially looking at the race, he was concerned Moreno might make things difficult for “lead-dependent” Bayern. “I came to the conclusion that Moreno wasn’t coming up to the lead real well,” Traynor said, “and I figured Bayern was going to get the lead regardless of what Moreno did.”

As for Cigar Street, Traynor decided to side against him, “Cigar Street looked to me like he was going to be close,” he said, “But I think the California speed is a lot different than speed back East and the early part of the race would maybe take too much out of him.”

With just 15 minutes to post, Traynor made the fateful decision to push all-in on Bayern. Even after Bayern’s number stopped blinking, he still didn’t think he’d won. “I didn’t think $71,000 would be enough,” he said, “but there was a story going around the room that the winner bet $10,000 on Bayern and I knew I was the guy who did it. That’s when it clicked that maybe I had this thing won.”

Traynor unwittingly followed the exact same strategy that propelled Patrick McGoey to BCBC glory twice. Traynor explained, “Frank McGoey, Patrick’s brother, came up to me after the race and said, ‘Patrick McGoey may not have won the BCBC, but the winner pulled a Patrick McGoey.’ It’s a good strategy. You’ve got to stay alive for the last dance.”

For a full accounting of the standings, prize money and NHC spots awarded, check out www.breederscup.com/bcbc.