11/17/2011 12:46PM

Q&A: Patrick McGoey

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Courtesy of Patrick McGoey
Patrick McGoey (left), with brother Frank, after a $7,000 bet on Classic winner Drosselmeyer helped him win the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

An attorney, he won the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, defeating 114 other handicappers, largely as a result of betting $7,000 to win on Drosselmeyer at odds of 14-1 in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Age: 40

Hometown: New Orleans, La.

Family: wife, Robin; daughters, Isabelle, Olivia, and Ava

Got into racing because . . . I’m the youngest of four brothers, and one of my brothers, Frank, introduced me to the sport a long time ago as a kid. He’s a fan and a handicapper. My family would go to Fair Grounds for special occasions and social events. Then, in 2005, what brought me closer to the sport was buying a horse in partnership. Then we bought a few more horses, and I started following it more closely. And then in 2007, I went to my first Kentucky Derby and was hooked. I’ve been back every year since.

Did you like Drosselmeyer from a handicapping standpoint, or was that a Hail Mary play to try to win the tournament? A little of both. I did like him from a handicapping standpoint. I thought the race set up for him. I thought Uncle Mo and Game On Dude would battle it out on the front end. I thought it would set up for a closer. I knew he wouldn’t have a problem with the distance. He was training well. And the last time Mike Smith rode him, he won. It was a Hail Mary in that I also thought it set up for Flat Out, but given Flat Out’s odds, I thought I couldn’t win the contest with him, so I decided to go with Drosselmeyer. If it was a Hail Mary, I threw the perfect pass.

So if the odds with Flat Out and Drosselmeyer were reversed, you’d have bet Flat Out? Yep. I thought Drosselmeyer’s odds should have been between 7-1 and 10-1. At 15-1, I thought it would get me to first place, and with the prize pool, that was like getting 40-1 on him. You don’t get too many shots at 40-1 with a horse you think has a good shot.

What’s it like to bet $7,000 on a horse? Were you nervous? Early in the day, I bet $1,000 on several horses. Those were the biggest bets I had ever made. I was nervous about those bets, but for some reason for Drosselmeyer I was not nervous. I was calm. I don’t know why. My brother got nervous. When they were going in the gate, I joked with my brother, “When I win, act like you’ve done this before.”

Do you think you were resigned to losing all your money? It might have been a little of that. I didn’t have a lot to lose. I had qualified for the tournament for $100 in an online tournament, so I was playing with house money. I had hit the late pick four the day before, so I was going home with money in my pocket regardless.

How had your Breeders’ Cup betting gone until that point? Up and down. I had won the day before on several horses, including Royal Delta, and I won the first two races on Saturday, pre-Breeders’ Cup, but those were favorites. I lost on Chamberlain Bridge, Jackson Bend, Union Rags, and Turallure. If either Union Rags or Turallure had won, I would have smashed the pick four. Watching those two races, losing by a nose, I guess I was due.

You got back more than $110,000 just for betting on Drosselmeyer and picked up another $160,000 as first prize in the tournament. Safe to say that was your best day ever at the track? Yes, without a doubt. I did hit the pick four on Belmont day, with Ruler On Ice, which wasn’t bad, but nothing like this.

Because of your win, you qualified for the finals of the Daily Racing Form/National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas in January. Have you played in that tournament before? I have not. I came close to qualifying a couple of years ago. But I’ve never been before. I’m looking forward to it.

You mentioned that you qualified for the tournament through a bcqualify.com contest that cost just $100 to enter. That’s a heck of a deal. There were other players in the tournament who put up $10,000 to enter the BCBC tournament, with $2,500 going to the pool and $7,500 as betting capital: Put up 100 bucks, turn it into $270,000. I’m not a math guy, but I think that return turned out all right. It was tremendous. They gave me $7,500 to bet. Going into the last race, I had $8,200. I bet about $1,200 in exactas in case Drosselmeyer didn’t win. I didn’t use Game On Dude in my exactas. I thought Uncle Mo would press him too much on the pace. I didn’t not think he’d run as huge as he did.

What are the things that you believe are most important when handicapping a race? How the race is going to set up from a pace standpoint. I think you’ve got to figure out the pace before deciding who you like on top. There was a fair amount of speed in the Classic, so I was looking for horses coming off the pace, like Flat Out and Drosselmeyer. I also look for biases. I couldn’t tell exactly how the track was playing that day, but then Amazombie and Caleb’s Posse came flying down the outside, so I thought the outside part of the track might be the place.

You are from New Orleans. What’s the best thing to eat at Fair Grounds? Corned beef sandwich every time, no doubt. It’s all I eat.

How often do you go to Fair Grounds? About 10 to 15 times a meet. I go out for all the big days. That’s why I got into buying horses. I was looking for an excuse to go to the track on Fridays for lunch with my friends, have fun and cut up.

Favorite jockey? Robby Albarado. He used to ride for us when we owned horses.

Favorite trainer? Al Stall Jr. or Eddie Johnston, who was our trainer. They’re two New Orleans guys.

Other than Drosselmeyer, who’s your favorite horse? I liked Blame. I had him to beat Zenyatta in the Classic the year before.

Hobbies? Golf has been my hobby longer than horse racing, but in a strange way, horse racing has helped my golf game, because I don’t sweat over a golf bet anymore. I go to a lot of events with my three little girls, like soccer and ballet.

And the track, too, I hope, because the family that gambles together, stays together: I took them all to the track last year. I gave them $2 to bet on each race. My 5-year-old is into “Dora the Explorer.” There was a horse running named Loco Mama. She kept calling my wife Loco Mama. So we bet on the horse, and it won. Now I have little girls hooked on horse racing.

Future ambitions? I want to get back into owning horses. I haven’t had any horses the last few years. A couple of buddies in my last group, we talked about getting a group together. Maybe we’ll put together a syndicate now.

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