11/16/2014 8:16PM

DRF's Bernier wins Aqueduct Betting Challenge


Daily Racing Form’s own Matt Bernier won the Aqueduct Betting Challenge, a two-day handicapping contest with a  first prize worth $40,000. Because he is a DRF employee, Bernier is not eligible for any of the three seats to the National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas that were awarded out of the Aqueduct tournament. The next three finishers - Stephen Thompson, Joseph Muzio, and Joe Girardi – earned  NHC seats.

Bernier’s victory seems particularly deserved since just two weeks ago  he played in the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge for a charity – the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. Bernier finished sixth overall and made more than  $70,000 for the TAA at Santa Anita. He dismissed the idea that his win was a karmic reward for that performance.

“I don’t think there was necessarily a karma element.  I just got lucky this weekend and things worked out for me,” Bernier said.

Bernier had a rough Day 1 until Zee Bros got the job done for him in the De Francis Dash at 29-1.

“I feel like I was repaid for being loyal to Zee Bros,” he explained. “I’ve always thought the horse had talent and I wrote on DRF Live that I could excuse his last four losses. Six furlongs is his distance and I thought he’d get a good setup and put in a big run.”

Bernier’s  Sunday got off to a good start and he worked his way into the top 10. But then he made a major mistake.

“I’d initially liked a 27-1 shot,” Bernier said, “I had earmarked him as one to possibly to take a stab with if I was behind, but I was in contention so decided to let it go in favor of another, shorter-priced horse. It was a foolish play.”

Naturally, Chang’s Secret won and Bernier was frustrated.

“I was a mess,” he admitted. “But I sat back down with my friends Lee Davis and Anthony Acierno and they said, ‘Look, you’ve still got two bets left. All you’ve got to do is hit the double.’ ”

Bernier decompressed for a little bit and was able to turn the page. He came back out swinging. He had Save the Park ($32.60) in the 9th at Woodbine to get back in the top five. He still had his double bet left for the last race. He just needed to decide where to fire it.

“Coming into the finale I was $170 out of first,” Bernier said, “I sat with Lee, Anthony, and Kevin Cox and we figured out the lowest price I could take to get into first.”

It worked out great for Bernier as Colin’s Nightingale was his first choice in the race anyway.

 “I knew I had to play 9-2 or better,” Bernier explained, “Colin’s Nightingale was 6-1 and floated up from there.”

Bernier, familiar to many in the contest world from the Horseplayers TV show, was ecstatic about his first five-figure win, “This is my biggest win by far,” he said. “Tonight I’m going to kick back, watch the Patriots, and relax.”

He deserves it – and he has a couple of days to enjoy it. Bernier doesn’t have to be back to work at the DRF office until Wednesday.

Here’s a look at the final top 10:

Matt Bernier                      $1,586

Stephen Thompson        $1,419

Joseph Muzio                    $1,278

Joe Girardi                          $1,249

Scott Carson                       $1,206

George Bosch                    $1,150

Lynneth Harry                   $1,134

Joseph Esposito                $1,074

Kenneth King                    $1,030

Alan Bogatch                     $1,016




Ann Maree More than 1 year ago
So happy for Matt and glad to see him being successful at a new career with DRF. He is a very likable young man and seems to have landed in a position perfect for his talents. Nice of Kevin Cox to provide support and advice. Loved his "Cowboy" image on Horseplayers. I rarely bet, but I thoroughly enjoyed the Horseplayers series and wish it would come back for another season. It was both entertaining and informative, a combination rarely found in today's reality show overload!
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Matt when I watch you and Dan on video, we usually come out with the same picks for those particular races you feature. BUT Effinex's hit was all you bro. Thanks for that. The bank roll is still smoking after that one.
David G. More than 1 year ago
And one more thing, if I were in my mid-20's and won $40k, I would not be spend the evening watching a bunch of pansies playing football. I would be painting the town red, take the week off from work, and head to either the Caribbean or to Vegas and party on.
mikeg More than 1 year ago
I guess he is not a drunk who needs to party after a big win. I'm guessing you would not call an nfl player a pansy to their face.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
He wins like a champ, and goes home humble to watch the best QB school the colts.
David G. More than 1 year ago
It's surreal that DRF posts the leaderboard here; however, NYRA can't post the official standings on its very own website.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Tell M HOOD who feels that NYRA and the NTRA are oil and water.
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
Well done!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Zee bros was a logical pick for a tournament and it was Laurel , so all kinds of "HUNCHES" in there, no surprise. I recall there were 4 picks in that race and he was one. He closes poorly that's why his odds were high but his early speed and top speed was as good as the favorites and this time he did not regress. I did an exacta with him. Bernier was lucky at the end and he knows it.
Matthew Hood More than 1 year ago
Really? A guy with no name says a 29-1 shot was easy and the winner of a 2 day contest was lucky? Well, we have all been lucky and this guy still gets the cash.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
some of you are way too much into this stuff. such as watching the gallop out, to see if he can stretch out form 6-7 furlongs. my God juts have 1 billion things to look for. I'd lose my mind
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gambling will git him
mikey More than 1 year ago
Great job he went from a guy who got money from his family to enter tourneys.Only in racing can a guy who works for the house win a tourney.Give the money away like you did in the BC.When he took the job at the DRF his tourney play goes out the window.Seats are seats but 40,000 is real money.Pick one work for DRF or play tourneys.Again great job,the game needs more young guy's in the game.Don't become the Pete Rose of horse racing.
DRFFormulator More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure I follow your logic. How is it that Matt works for the house when the money came from NYRA and Matt works for DRF? Are you saying that because Matt works for a company associated with racing, he shouldn't be eligible to win the prize money in a NYRA tournament? If you carried that logic to its extreme, no DRF employee would be able to cash any pari-mutuel wager, right?
Matthew Hood More than 1 year ago
Damn!! We have a web based software program acting on it's own and talking trash! It's like Hal from 2001 A Space Odyssey has a racing cousin.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Betting at the windows is not the same as a contest.The other players do not want with the DRF employees.When he took the job at DRF his contests for profit needed to stop.Why did his BC money go to the disabled jocks.Racing has too many problems already.Why are they not allowed in the NTRA at vegas.He took money and NTRA points out of someone's pocket.He is a great guy and i wish him all the luck in the world and at the windows.Stay out of the contests or give up your job.P.S i was not in the contest but have heard from a few who were.Thet feel it is wrong.Tell the guy who finished 2nd that Matt did not get inside info.
Matthew Hood More than 1 year ago
You are pretty clueless my friend. When you have a web based computer program calling you out it's not good, but I digress. 1.) DRF sponsors the NHC so that is why they prohibit their employees from competing. Get it? Same reason you cannot work for any company that runs a contest and does not allow any employee, and usually any family member, from winning any prizes from said contest. 2.) This was a NYRA contest for cash with the added bonus of spots for the tourney in Vegas as there are every week at tracks around the country as well as online. Go to the qualifying site and you can do so yourself if you want to. Bernier gave up his spot even before the tourney started so it was clear he was going for the cash. 3.) This tourney gave top 3 spots a free entry. The 4th place guy got a spot because Bernier gave his up by rules. So nobody was cheated in any way. 4.) To insinuate that anybody involved in the racing industry should not be able to benefit from it in a gambling way is ridiculous. Any way we can get more people interested and more money in pools is a plus. Just think about the big picture before you try to criticize. Lastly, I love the Hal 9000 response from Formulator.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Put your Hood back on and open your eyes.What is the difference between the NYRA and the BC tourney.Matt gave his winnings away here he kept it.The windows are open to all.DRF employees as far back as i remember were not in contests.I think Matt is a great guy and very good handicapper.Read what i said the guy who was second lost the first prize money.I have been in the NTRA 6 times and know who the sponsor is.The web based guys are his co workers not some ghost.
mikey More than 1 year ago
I have been to contests since they started and never saw a DRF employee at any.Have you and if so who.I have witnessed many of them betting and i wish them well.Don't mix apples and oranges,
DRFFormulator More than 1 year ago
If they don't play, that's their choice. They are only excluded from contests in which DRF is a name sponsor, which is why Matt had to turn down the NHC seat. Anyone looking to knock the kid for winning is just stewing in sour grapes.
DRFFormulator More than 1 year ago
Inside info? Matt gave out Zee Bros at 29-1 at live.drf.com!
mikey More than 1 year ago
Even a blind dog finds a bone.No question he is good but still don't belong in public tourneys.Who else from the DRF goes in them.Who put up the 10,000 foe the BC tourney.If he put it up why did he give up the money.Great job taking his side as you are his sidekick and pal.
P Cerv More than 1 year ago
Heck, Bernier is smarter than Lukass! First time I saw Lukass without his $2000 suit in the winners circle with Zee Bros?