06/16/2017 9:50AM

Ivery mixes favorites and longshots to win three contests in one day


Brian Ivery is new to the horse-racing contest scene, but the early returns suggest that you might hear his name a lot in the coming months.

On Wednesday, Ivery had a huge day on DRF Tournaments, winning three contests to net entries into this weekend’s qualifiers for the Wynn Challenge and Del Mar Handicapping Challenge and a spot in the Grade 1 qualifier for DRFT’s World Championship of Handicapping on July 8.

Ivery, 43, had played in free contests before 2017 but just recently started playing regularly on DRFT. “I’d had a bad day on a Saturday, and then I saw an ad in the Form for a chance to play for $11 on Sunday,” said Ivery, a contractor from Ithaca, N.Y. “That got me going, and I’ve been playing ever since.”

He started going to the track as a kid and recalls going to Vernon Downs, a harness track in western New York. His stepfather owned a few horses. “When I got back from college in 2003, that’s when Funny Cide was making his run, and I got caught up in that,” he said.

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Ivery also made forays into horse ownership, first as a partner in West Point Thoroughbreds, where he enjoyed some success with a filly named Watercolors. From there, he went on his own. “These days, I mostly get my horses through claiming,” he said. “I’ve learned the hard way that I don’t have the patience to play the claiming game, as anyone who trains for me will attest.”

Ivery usually handicaps at night while unwinding and sometimes having the television on in the background. As a mostly horizontal player and win-place bettor, contests fit his style nicely: Focus on a horse to win as opposed to what’s going to run in with the winner. His busy lifestyle – he has three kids – makes all-in contests, where all picks must be in before the first race, especially appealing. “I can be running around and check in on the leaderboard and races when I can,” he said.

The contest that drew his attention Wednesday was the first-round qualifier for the WCH, where players put up $95 per entry and one in seven were to advance to the Grade 1 qualifier on July 8.

“I knew I wanted to play in the one that led to the million-dollar contest,” he said, “but as I looked down, I saw there were low-buy-in feeders for the Wynn and Del Mar, so I figured why not go all in?”

Del Mar was of particular interest. “I’ve driven by that place 100 times but never actually been for the races, so I thought that might be fun,” he said.

At first, Ivery was slightly hesitant to play Wednesday’s slate of races since Delaware Park was included and he’s mostly a New York player. “I looked at the Delaware races, and there were a couple of Graham Motion horses who stood out, and I knew they’d be short, but I went ahead and played them,” he said.

That strategy made all the more sense because Ivery knew he had several longshots to play at Belmont Park, allowing him to take shorter odds elsewhere.

This points to one of the great reasons to consider “multitabling,” playing in more than one contest at once. When you have strong opinions and you’ve already done the work, why not maximize the amount you can win?

His first important horse was Bright Side Up ($27.60 win-place combined) in Belmont’s sixth. “She was second off the layoff, and there was other speed for her to sit off,” he said. “She was just loaded turning for home.”

The eighth race at Belmont featured his best bet of the day, Fear. At 8-1 on the morning line, Fear ended up drifting up to 14-1 and returning $41.60 win-place. “I love that horse,” he said. “Dylan Davis, who also won on Bright Side Up, is a sneaky-good turf rider, and he was coming off a bad race on the mud, but on turf, I thought he belonged in the race as much as the favorites.”

Fear made his move on the turn and was gone, and Ivery had advanced – times three. He ended up with $105.60, more than double the second-place finisher in the first-round event.

He’s been this far before but now hopes to seal the deal in an upcoming qualifier. “I haven’t had good days when it came time to take the next step,” he said, “but I’ll stick my nose in the Form, look at TimeformUS, and watch a bunch of old races, and maybe this time I’ll get the job done.”

To join Ivery in DRFT qualifiers, check out tournaments.drf.com.